El Niño May Lead to Drought in Australia

After more than a year of teasing climate forecasters with conflicting signals, the climate phenomenon known as El Niño has finally committed to playing a potentially major role in shaping weather conditions for at least the next several months, if not longer. Earlier this week, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology declared that El Niño is in fact present in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which means that sea surface temperatures are above average in parts of the equatorial tropical Pacific, and the trade winds have shifted from their usual east-to-west direction. Using separate criteria, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center had determined that an El Niño event was underway in March, and the agency is expected to state that the event is showing signs of intensifying when it issues its latest update on Thursday morning.