VMGD Media Release: ENSO Remains Neutral

The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department advised earlier this year of the increasing chance of an El Niño occurring towards the middle of the year 2017. Since the advice was put out via the Vanuatu Climate Update (VCU), there has been a pause in its (El Niño) progress and we continue to observe ENSO neutral conditions. Since the end of the 2015/16 El Niño in July 2016, Vanuatu began receiving normal to above normal rainfall levels in the month of April and May 2017. This was due to the rainfall brought by TC Cook (April) and TC Donna (May).

Dry season for Vanuatu is characterized by the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) moving up north towards the equator with high pressure cells moving further up over the southern part of the country bringing cooler winds and drier conditions. The SPCZ has a big influence on the rainfall pattern of Vanuatu, especially on the Northern most parts of the country compared to the Central (Shefa) and Southern (Tafea) parts of Vanuatu. While during the dry season, central and Southern islands of Vanuatu experience less rainfall. Torba Province, in particular Sola experiences very little change because of the SPCZ.

During the months of June and July 2017 the SPCZ was suppressed over the Vanuatu. This means the SPCZ was not active over the country which explains the below average rainfall received during the two months. The decrease in rainfall is not because of an El Niño event but is a result of the dry season which is from May – October every year. Historical rainfall records show that the months with the lowest rainfall records are July, August and September for all Synoptic stations.

For the coming three months (September – November) the forecast continues to favor below normal rainfall for all of Vanuatu. It is advised that the public take extra care when starting fires as current conditions make it easy for fires to spread and cause damage to property. The public should also preserve and use water wisely for the remainder of the dry season. Updates and information are available on our website (www.vmgd.gov.vu ).

For further guidance please contact: David GIBSON, Director, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), Telephone 24686, Email: dgibson@meteo.gov.vu

By Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department, Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation