The University of British Columbia associate professor in geography, who has written a book on the history of cyclones in the Cook Islands, said cyclones in an El Nino event could be damaging.
Professor de Scally did an analysis on the effects of El Nino and its opposite, La Nina in the Cook Islands in 2008. Regardless of its strength, it could produce quite a significant damage, he said.
In the past, weaker El Ninos had produced some ‘spectacular damage’ in the Cook Islands, he added.
“It definitely has an effect. There is a greater probability of cyclones impacting the Cook Islands particularly the southern groups during El Nino years.
“The message to the public would be that yes, there is a greater chance of cyclones impacting during El Nino events but they don’t just occur during El Nino events, they can occur in any given year.”
El Nino is a phase of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, which describes fluctuations in temperature between the ocean and atmosphere in the east-central Equatorial Pacific. It is an irregularly-occurring and complex series of climatic changes. Effects include reversal of wind patterns across the Pacific, drought in Australasia, and unseasonal heavy rain in South America.
The Cook Islands Meteorological Service says that in this country El Nino is affecting the dry season’s weather pattern, bringing rain and lower temperatures.