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Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders
20 June 2005
Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, said the Bureau of Meteorology has advised that the likelihood of an El Niño event forming in 2005 has reduced.
"We are now entering the end of the critical March-June period for an El Niño event to become established, and on the basis of recent information the likelihood of such an event developing this year has begun to diminish," Mr Hunt said.
"The odds on current trends are nearer to the long-term average of a 25% chance of an El Nino event in 2005 - down from the autumn outlook of between 30 and 50%."
Mr Hunt said a further assessment of the forecast would be made at the start of July when complete data for the month of June becomes available.
"If these trends continue, there is cause for some optimism that Australia will continue to see some easing of rainfall deficiencies," Mr Hunt said. Recent rains across eastern Australia have provided some relief from the very warm and dry start to the year, and raised the prospects for the winter cropping season.
"However, it remains too early to say when the lingering warmth in the tropical Pacific Ocean will completely dissipate," Mr Hunt said. This warmth, coupled with consistently negative values of the Southern Oscillation Index, has contributed to the failure to see a full recovery from the 2002-03 drought in many areas.
Fiona Murphy (Mr Hunt's office) 0423 577 045
Dr David Jones (Bureau of Meteorology) 03 9669 4085