Predicted end to La Nina weather

THE Weather Channel's declaration of the end of the La Nina weather cycle has not been met with delight by local weather watchers.

"They rely on a computer to tell them what's going to happen, instead of ringing up people who know," Neil Winters, cattle farmer and owner of The Clarence Gorge said.

"The Weather Channel reckon technology tells them what's going on, but they can be 24-36 hours behind date."

Declaring an end to La Nina and a return to season norms, The Weather Channel yesterday sent out reports justifying their announcement.

"A few key indicators are used to make a call on the end of a La Nina event," said Tom Saunders, senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel.

"Firstly, since the beginning of February sea surface temperatures (SSTs) over the central equatorial Pacific have rapidly warmed, moving us from La Nina into neutral conditions," Mr Saunders said.

"A second indicator is the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), which measures the pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin," he said.

Late last year the SOI reached +24, well above La Nina thresholds of about +8, but in February the SOI averaged only +2.5.

"Other indicators have been slower to respond, with dateline cloud and trade winds remaining well within La Nina thresholds during February, but both have approached normal levels during the past few weeks."

Farmers have their own local knowledge built up through generations. Neil Winter's family have lived below the junction of the Mann and Clarence rivers for 113 years.

"Fellows in Brushgrove and Ulmarra will ring me and ask how much rain is coming down, because they have got about 13 hours to move their cattle and can't rely on weather reports," Mr Winters said.

"We know if the water is dirty coming down, it's come from Tabulam way and if it's clear, its coming from Jackadgery or Nymboida, because the water is more pristine on the west side."

"If Dorrigo had 100mm out of cloudburst this afternoon, they'll report that, but then not tell you that in three days the Lilydale Bridge is going to be out."

Topics:  floods grafton la nina rain weather

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