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El Nino strongest ever?



Climatologists have started off saying the imminent 2015/16 El Nino is the strongest ever in recorded history which is an extremely bold claim, seeing that Peruvian recorded history of these events dates back 15,000 years and Chinese and Hindu observations 10,000 years, then saying it is the strongest only since 1997

RadioNZ picked up on it too

Strongest ever El Nino headed for NZ

Updated at 1:47 pm on 5 September 2015, RadioNZ

Now they have done a reversal

Bureau of Meteorology says El Nino on its way out, widespread rain on the way in

(Lydia Burton, Tuesday November 10, 2015 - 17:19 EDT)

So what is really going on? The haste with which they change their minds is unsettling, when there are farmers and economists who make decisions based on trusting the climate modelers. At the same time we are constantly reminded that they can only forecast 3-6 days ahead, and that longrange predictions can only be the work of charlatans. So does that include them?  Climatologists admit they have no longrange system. It is guesswork  designed to qualify for the continuance of taxpayer funding in a field that is at best inexact

In fact a weak El Nino is more likely.  Only a few areas in NZ are at great risk, being Northland, Gisborne/Hawkes Bay and Canterbury. Some other eastern regions will receive good autumn rain, and a strong El Nino is not usually confined to only three or four regions. This article explores the current situation..

Impossible call

Because comprehensive satellite data goes back only to 1979, it would be impossible to call any El Nino the worst or strongest 'ever' in modern times Although El Nino was only named as such in 1982-83, previously called the southern oscillation index (SOI) and then Humboldt Current, most have forgotten 1965-66 which would be the most destructive El Nino so far, worldwide and also for NZ. And when the concept is identified El Nino is only called off on at the end of any given year, not at the beginning. So never mind the hype intended to spread fear and panic, what are the facts, as usual when it comes to contentious climate information conveniently suppressed? 


1.  We have just come through solar cycle#24 which peaked at the end of 2014 and cycle#24 is now in decline. 

2.  El Ninos typically follow solar cycle peaks and minimums. There are roughly 2 El Ninos per decade.

3. The strength or weakness of the solar cycle just before El Nino determines the strength or weakness of the El Nino. 

4.  We have just come through a weak solar cycle - logical outcome: a weak El Nino. 

5.  Weak El Ninos after weak solar cycles have been 1976-78 and 2006-7. 

6.  Strong El Ninos after steep solar cycles have been 1957-58, 1965-66, 1982-83, and 1997-98.

7.  El Ninos reduce cyclones.  A weak El Nino will reduce number and strength of cyclones. 

No such thing as an El Nino summer

Due to the solar and lunar cycle of seasons this coming southern hemisphere summer will be long and dry, but that is not what is meant by El Nino, which refers more to the Australian dry season between autumn and spring. El Nino is not a description that applies in summer. Some NZ regions will be extra dry, e.g. Northland has a serious dry season looming, about 5 month's worth, starting at end of a fairly wet-at-times December and some below average rain months lasting until good rains in June. The coming dryness will remind people of what happened in 1992, and 1968, and these years are a jump of 23-24 years which is the complete solar cycle, and which controls heat and dryness. (Many dry areas received March rains in 1992). The 2015-16 El Nino will be chased away by a spring La Nina around next October and November. 


In 2016 there will be serious drying out between Otago and Canterbury and Hawkes Bay.  Areas which began to dry out in August of this year are likely to continue receiving soil moisture deficits through to the end of 2016 almost to levels where plant growth ceases. Between August 2015 and December 2016 some areas may record only 2 months with above average rainfall.  The first half of November 2015 will be dry for most regions.  December 2015 will be wet for inland Taranaki, Central Plateau, South Island West Coast, Southland and parts of Otago.  Inland Otago will get January rain, and February will be wet for Central Plateau, Taranaki and South Island West Coast.  Throughout February heat waves and drought from frequent hot northwesterlies affect the east, but Fiordland and coastal Otago should stay wet.   BoP, Waikato, Rot/Taupo will get good relieving rains in early autumn. Autumn brings unusual warmth to the north and east whilst the south and west of South Island receive rain.   Remnants of cyclonic systems affect NZ in the last part of March and through April, but may be few in number. One early in April brings high winds from north and west as it crosses the lower South Island.  By mid-April warm seas and anticyclones result in continued warmth over North Island, and even well into May the talk will be of an Indian Summer.  Winter keeps the east dry and the lower NI wet.  June is still warm and cloudy in the north but the second half of July brings high rainfall with flooding to northern half of North Island and northern South Island, and dry conditions for the far south. Because of lateness of lasting snow skiers may have to wait until mid-August for their season to open.  In the second half of August it is still dry in the east but wet, warm and cloudy in the north.  Over much of the South Island, winter cold will often arrive with sunshine.  September is sunny and continuing dry in the east and north of the North Island but wet in south of the South Island. November's first half sees northwesterly gales bring rain and possible flooding to Taranaki, Buller and central New Zealand whilst Gisborne and Hawkes Bay continue to be dry.  But after mid-November, La Nina easterlies bring dry weather to west and south of the South Island, warmth to the north and west, but cooler conditions in many parts of the east.  By the second half of December, agricultural drought is back, affecting the North Island and Canterbury.  

Driest regions in 2016


Canterbury + S Cant 

Coastal Otago 

Wettest regions in 2016



Central Plateau 

Top of SI 

South Island West Coast  

Regional expectations for next dry trends

Northland fairly dry from end of this December to June:              (5 months dry)

Auckland dryness until next March rain.                                    (4 months dry)

BoP dry from November to end of February                               (3 months dry)

Waikato dry from December to March

Rot/Taupo dry from November to March                                     (3 months dry)

Gis/HB rain deficiencies from November to July:                         (7 months dry)

Cent Plat dries out only through January

Taranaki dry only through January

Manawatu dry from November to June                                        (6 months dry)

Lower NI dry from November to March

SI West Coast dry only through January

The top of SI goes into drought until March                                 (5 months dry)

Canterbury dry from August to March                                         (6 months dry)

S Canterbury dry from November to March                                 (3 months dry)

Coastal Otago dry from January to March

The Lakes dry from Sept to March                                             (5 months dry)

Inland Otago dry from January to March

Southland dry from January to March

Portions of the above extracted from NZ Weather Almanac for 2016, available  from   

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