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Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders
2 August 2005
Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, said today the Bureau of Meteorology has advised that risk of an El Niño developing during the remainder of this year was now rated as low.
"The Southern Oscillation Index, which climatologists use to monitor El Niño development, has remained positive for the last two months," Mr Hunt said.
"El Niño events are invariably associated with sustained negative values of this index, making El Niño formation unlikely this year.
"Most international, seasonal forecasting models, including the model run at the Bureau of Meteorology, clearly favour a continuation of neutral conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean during our winter and spring.
"This is encouraging news for farmers and follows the good rainfalls experienced in many parts of the country during July."
The Bureau of Meteorology's Drought Statement, released today, showed that rainfall deficiencies in East Gippsland (Vic), the Southwest Slopes and Central and Southern Tablelands (NSW) were removed by the heavy rain at the start of the month.
In central and northwestern Australia, medium-term deficiencies were also significantly reduced by widespread above average falls during July.
However, the Statement noted that severe short-term rainfall deficiencies persist in the far southeast of the country after July delivered only around 30-50% of its average rainfall.
"While there has been a general easing of longer term rainfall deficiencies, particularly across western and north-western Australia, most states contain a number of relatively dry areas where the rainfall for the year as a whole has not come up to normal levels."
The Bureau of Meteorology Drought Statement is available from http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/drought.shtml
Jahda Swanborough (Mr Hunt's Office) 02 6277 2276