So, is El Ninõ coming?

A couple of weeks back the media was talking about El Ninõ - how that would bring severe drought to Brunei over the next couple of months after the heavy rain in December. My mother in law was worried enough to ask for her water storage tank to be inspected. She was worried about the drought as everyone did. For the uninitiated, El Ninõ is a climatic phenomenon occurring irregularly, but generally every 3 to 5 years. El Ninõs often first become evident during the Christmas season (El Ninõ means Christ child) in the surface oceans of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. The phenomenon involves seasonal changes in the direction of the tropical winds over the Pacific and abnormally warm surface ocean temperatures. For Brunei, it means that there will be less rainfall during the El Ninõ season.

Anyway as most Brunieans realised, despite the media hype on El Ninõ, the rains did not stop in January. Everyone would say wait till February, the rain will dry out and we will see full sunshine and more. Well, this is February. All we still see is water being poured down from the sky. So is El Ninõ coming?

The last El Ninõ weather we had was in 1997/1998. I remembered that came together with the Asian Financial Crisis and Brunei's very own financial crisis. I remembered then that everyday we watched the oil prices and watch it spiral down ever closer to the $10 a barrel mark and watch the government current budget deficit agonisingly get bigger and bigger. This was coupled with the haze that came from our neighbouring country. At times I could not see beyond 20 feet. Our forests caught fire too. There were not enough firemen to go round dousing all fires in Brunei. That was how dry it was and shows what the effects of El Ninõ can do.

I heard very recently the Brunei weather people have been telling us that the weather forecasters may have been a little bit off when they predicted severe drought this year. It is still expected that rainfall in February and March will be slightly lower than normal. However if there is any El Ninõ effect, it will be felt during these two months but the weather should return back to normal by the middle of the year. According to the weather models, the El Ninõ effect should be peaking right around now. Hence the effect on Brunei should be felt by February-March 2007 but the effect will at most be minor. It will not reach the intensity of the 1997/98 crisis.

Even with hotspots in Kalimantan and parts of Indonesia, we will not see the haze that much as the winds are still and expected to blow from the north east and will shelter us from the worst effects of the Haze. However according to WMO (World Meteorological Organisation) that there is also the slight possibility that El Ninõ may be in a cycle and that cycle might be on upwards between March to May period. If that does happen, there may be the possibility that the drier season will start later.

Overall our weather people think that the weather is going to be a little bit unpredictable over the next couple of months but otherwise agreeable and therefore we should not panic. That's what the weather folks are telling me. I don't know about you - but weather forecasters are just that - forecasters and they are not forseers. I will get that water storage tank checked, just in case.


Anonymous said…
I say it's always good to be prepared for anything well before hand... If a true distaster happends we will be a lot better off.
Just go rush out to buy supplies like like crazy and create mass panic. hehe
Anonymous said…
It's ok to be prepared. But really concerned me was the El Nino and La Nina. Friends told me that the meaning of ElNino is "anak tuhan lelaki" (Son of God) and La Nina as "Anak Tuhan Perempuan" (God's Daughter). Its coming from latin word. Are using that term especially with muslim like us.

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