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Chance of better weather

Tuesday August 05, 2014 Written by Published in Weather
Met Service operations manager Maara Vaiimene finds an umbrella doesn’t hold up so well against winds of around 15 knots. 13070110 Met Service operations manager Maara Vaiimene finds an umbrella doesn’t hold up so well against winds of around 15 knots. 13070110

After a week of wet and cold weather, things look to be on the improve.

Cook Islands Met Service Director Arona Ngari said a weak frontal system with associated cloud and showers is continuing to move slowly over the Southern Cooks.

“It should start clearing by Monday but it will still be cool.”

Meanwhile, the Met Service is predicting that the chance of an El Niño weather cycle this year is still likely - but now a little less likely.

“Earlier this year it looked as though an El Niño in 2014 was very likely, but over the past few months there has been a pause in its progress. An El Niño still appears to be the most likely scenario, but the strength of the El Niño is predicted to be weaker than what looked possible a month or so ago.”

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.  

In the Cook Islands, El Niño is often, but not always, associated with reduced rainfall for the Southern Cooks and increased rainfall for the Northern Cooks.

It can also bring cooler south-easterly trade-winds for the Southern Cooks and slightly warmer temperatures for the Northern Cook Islands. 

Ngari said that during March, April and May there was significant warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean, which primed the climate system for an El Niño.

However, the atmosphere hasn’t responded in the typical El Niño style since June; the easterly trade winds have remained near-normal, resulting in some cooling of the tropical Pacific. 

“Without this signature ‘coupling’ of the warm oceans and the weakening trade winds, the models are suggesting the El Niño will not be a strong as first thought. It's also possible that an El Niño will not form this year,” Ngari said.   

The Met Service will continue to monitor the situation closely, as El Niño can have strong impacts on rainfall.