Arona Ngari, Director of the Cook Islands Meteorological Service, has confirmed what we all knew - that it’s been unusually wet and cold in Rarotonga.
“Rainfall has been higher than normal over the past three to six months for the southern Cook Islands. In terms of temperatures, we’ve also been unusually low.”
The lowest recorded temperature in Rarotonga so far was 14.4 degrees Celsius on June 15.
That compares to the country’s all-time low of nine degrees, recorded in Mangaia in 1975, and Rarotonga’s all-time low of 13 degrees.
Ngari said 13 degrees is still pretty warm by many country’s standards but “it’s freezing for us Cook Islanders”.
Both locals and tourists have been confused, if not irked, by the temperamental weather conditions lately.
Ngari said the bad weather is a result of an El Nino cycle returning to the western Pacific region.
El Nino and La Nina are opposite phases of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, which describes fluctuations in temperature between the ocean and atmosphere in the east-central Equatorial Pacific.
During El Nino, which means ‘The Little Boy’ or ‘Christ Child’ in Spanish, a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures occurs, bringing dramatic changes in the weather.
Ngari said the region is already into the El Nino pattern but it may strengthen over the coming months.
“And if it does, it becomes a high risk for us because we’ll have a breeding ground for tropical cyclones in the north. Once they start breeding, they have to move somewhere and we’re right downstream.”
He said members of the public will be able to learn about El Nino by heading along to the Met Service’s tent at the Lagoon Day event which runs from 8:30am to 3pm today and tomorrow at Punanga Nui.