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April 28 - Farmers warned to prepare for the worst as risk of El Nino grows
Signs Of The
Farmers are being cautioned to prepare contingency plans amid early signs of a large El Nino climate event this year.In New Zealand, the ocean-driven system typically brings cooler, wetter conditions, bringing higher rainfall to regions that are normally wet, and often drought to areas that are usually dry.
The National Institute of Water and Atmosphere has given a 50 per cent chance of an El Nino developing over winter, while international forecasts have put the probability of one arriving by the end of the year as high as 80 per cent.
Federated Farmers adverse events spokeswoman Katie Milne saw the picture as cause for vigilance."Farmers do need to be aware it is getting to be more of a stronger prediction than just a hint - and to be thinking about what happened in affected areas in those years when we had strong El Ninos," she said. "It would be advisable to start thinking about whether they need a plan about what they need to do if the worst does come to pass."
El Nino events have been devastating in the past - the last severe system in 1997 and 1998 caused a major drought that cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars.
"In the equatorial Pacific, there is this massive warm region of extra ocean heat that has moved very steadily from the Indonesian region in January to just about the South American coast now," Professor Renwick said. "That warmth will come up to the surface, and the expectation is that this is a bigger slug of warmth than we've seen for four or five years - maybe even 10 years - and just on that basis you'd expect a pretty decent El Nino."
Professor Renwick said a system could arrive sooner or later than predicted, but he expected one would come by spring and last through the summer. "The indications right now aren't that it will be a super El Nino, just that it will be an El Nino."
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