What El Nino? It is not even here yet

The main indicator of El Nino is a continuous trend in which the surface temperature increases over a long period. — Malay Mail pic
The main indicator of El Nino is a continuous trend in which the surface temperature increases over a long period. — Malay Mail pic

PETALING JAYA, Aug 18 — The El Nino phenomenon, which was initially projected to hit Malaysian shores last month month may not arrive anytime soon.

Meteorological Department deputy director-general Alui Bahari said there was still no concrete indication the phenomenon was about to begin.

“In fact, the chance of El Nino occurring within this few months is only 60 per cent,” said Alui.

Alui said for an El Nino occurrence to be confirmed, observations should show a sea surface temperature of above 0.5°C over a period of five months consecutively.

“Right now, the surface temperature is fluctuating and is still below 0.5°C,” he said.

Universiti Malaya Sabah environmental science expert Professor Justin Sentian concurred with Alui, saying there were no signs of El Nino.

“The main indicator of El Nino is a continuous trend in which the surface temperature increases over a long period, usually five months.

“If it goes up and down like it is now, that means El Nino has not occurred,”

he said.

Justin likened the current situation to the episode in 2012 when the scientific community was baffled by El Nino’s no-show, saying it was difficult to predict El Nino.

“Although there are occasional signs that El Nino may occur, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when it will begin.

“Even we scientists do not actually understand when it will happen,” he said.

“However, we know for sure it will happen, either this year or next year, because El Nino occurs in a cycle.

“When it happens, it will bring a significant change in temperature, especially throughout countries bordering the Equator,” he said.

Earlier this month, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a statement saying model forecasts had slightly delayed the El Nino onset, with most forecasters expected the phenomenon to begin from August to October and continuing into early 2015.

The last time El Nino occurred was from 2009 to 2010.

Meanwhile, the department’s National Weather Centre has forecast isolated thunderstorms throughout Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Selangor, and a host of other states throughout this week.

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