The Australian Meteorological Bureau announced on Tuesday September 19 the formation of the El Niño weather phenomenon, generally associated with rising temperatures and significant droughts likely to lead to devastating forest fires. Australia expects a southern summer warmer than average » and fears large fires. On Monday, Ecuador declared orange alert due to the arrival “ imminent » of El Niño, which could cause devastating rains.
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Concern is growing in the Pacific on the climate front. In July, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) estimated the chances of the phenomenon forming during the second half of 2023 at 90% and alerts are increasing.
Ecuador raised the signal on Monday by moving from yellow alert to orange alert due to the arrival ” imminent » of the El Niño climatic phenomenon. “ This means that Ecuador is moving from a stage of prevention to a stage of preparation (…) To do this, we have obtained multilateral financing of more than 500 million dollars “, declared President Guillermo Lasso on the social network X (formerly Twitter).
According to the Head of State, the funds obtained will be used to “ deal with the road emergency, purchase heavy machinery (…) and acquire 1,200 meters of temporary bridges “. “ The presence of the natural event is imminent and could coincide with the country’s rainy season during the last quarter of the year “, declared for his part the Secretary of Risk Management, Cristian Torres, quoted in a presidential bulletin.
Ecuador has already suffered from periodic warming of Pacific waters. El Niño brings torrential rains to the country, which cause deadly floods and landslides. The government fears devastation this year similar to that of 1997 and 1998, in which nearly 300 people died and losses totaled around $3 billion.
Since the start of the year, rains have already caused the deaths of around a hundred people in Ecuador. And in neighboring Peru, El Niño is already making itself felt with intense rains, droughts and frosts that have dampened the economy over the past three months.
Australia fears fires as devastating as three years ago
Australia, for its part, is expecting a suffocating southern summer. On Tuesday, Karl Braganza, a government forecaster, said an El Niño phenomenon had taken hold in the Pacific Ocean, coinciding with the unusual spring heatwave currently affecting the east of the country. According to him, El Niño will contribute to warming the oceans, which have been experiencing record temperatures since April. “ This summer will be warmer than average and certainly hotter than in the last three years “, he warns.
“ The arrival of El Niño will significantly increase the likelihood of breaking temperature records and triggering more extreme heat in many parts of the world and in the oceans », indicated in July the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, Petteri Taalas.
According to climatologist Andrew King of the University of Melbourne, El Niño increases the risk of fires and droughts in certain regions of Australia: “ The unusually hot weather we are currently seeing across south-eastern Australia could portend extreme conditions that could increase over the coming months. »
The country fears fires as devastating as those of the austral summer 2019-2020. The spring heatwave sweeping eastern Australia follows the warmest winter on record since records began in 1910.