Meat & Livestock News

Bureau of Meteorology Responds to Criticism Over El Niño Forecast

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has addressed concerns regarding its long-range forecasting following a predicted hot and dry summer that resulted in unexpected widespread rain and flooding in Australia.

Initial Forecast and Its Impact

BOM had been indicating since March of the previous year that Australia was likely to experience an El Niño-influenced dry period. This forecast, widely reported by the media, coincided with a dry start to the year in parts of New South Wales and Queensland. The prediction led to significant destocking and a market downturn, with opinions divided on the forecast’s influence on these events.

BOM’s Explanation of Weather Changes

BOM explained that the dry conditions typical of El Niño were evident during the spring, with record low rainfall and high temperatures leading to extensive fires and low soil moisture levels. However, the situation changed in late spring with heavy rainfall and humid conditions in eastern Australia. BOM’s spokesperson highlighted that their summer outlook, issued in late November, did anticipate the likelihood of rain.

Questioning the Messaging

The bureau’s communication methods have been scrutinised, particularly the portrayal of the dry forecast in media reports using terms like “Super El Niño,” which BOM did not use. The bureau was asked about its role in the media coverage and whether it plans to review its messaging strategy.

Factors Influencing Unusual Rainfall

BOM attributed last year’s unusual rainfall during the typically dry El Niño period to factors like a positive Southern Annular Mode and high temperatures in the Tasman Sea. The spokesperson noted that no two El Niño events are identical, and the bureau uses a range of inputs for its forecasts, which are updated fortnightly.

Summer Outlook and Forecast Accuracy

Looking ahead, BOM’s summer outlook suggests a higher chance of rainfall in parts of eastern Australia, with warmer days and nights expected across most of the country. The spokesperson defended the accuracy of BOM’s forecasts, ranking them among the top five globally, and emphasised the inherent uncertainty in weather forecasting.

BOM’s Commitment to Forecasting for Agriculture

BOM highlighted its dedication to providing accurate forecasts for the agricultural sector, pointing to resources on its website specifically targeted to this industry.