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La Niña finally over, but watch instantly issued for El Niño



La Niña, the weather phenomenon that brought wet conditions and devastating floods to Australia, has been declared over after nearly five months, but it could soon be replaced by its hotter, dryer counterpart.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said on Tuesday La Niña has officially ended, but immediately issued an El Niño watch, saying there is a 50 per cent chance the latter weather phenomenon will occur later this year.

"La Niña has ended in the tropical Pacific Ocean," the BoM said in its latest climate driver update.

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"The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is now neutral (neither La Niña nor El Niño) with oceanic and atmospheric indicators having returned to neutral ENSO levels.

"International climate models suggest neutral ENSO conditions are likely to persist through the southern autumn.

"However, there are some signs that El Niño could form later in the year.

"Hence the Bureau has issued an El Niño Watch.

"This means there is a 50 per cent chance of an El Niño in 2023."

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Floodwaters are rising in Condobolin, threatening homes.

El Niño typically brings hot, dry conditions to Australia, often leading to drought and bushfires.

The last time one was in effect was in 2019-20, when the Black Summer fires devastated the east coast.

According to the BoM, the average of international model forecasts suggests an El Niño could be declared in August.

The weather bureau's announcement brings to an end the third-consecutive La Niña event, only the third time a "triple dip" had been recorded.

Australia set a number of rainfall records in 2022, which was the ninth-wettest year on record.

However, despite La Niña being in effect, temperatures were still above average by half a degree, making it Australia's equal-22nd-warmest year ever recorded.

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