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Drier than normal conditions forecast

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

With Tonga currently experiencing El Nino, it means that drier than normal conditions are expected over the next three to six months and people are advised to conserve water.

Tonga’s Meteorological Services said the El Nino this year continues to strengthen with the forecasted rainfall for the next six months for drier than normal conditions.

In the last two months from May to July, rainfall was below normal throughout Tonga. This three month outlook is typical of El Nino years. The islands with rainfall deficiencies are likely to intensify for the rest of the dry season from May to October where below normal rainfall are favoured and into the wet season, November to April.

Cool temperature

At the same time, El Nino usually brings cooler night time temperatures from May to October with less rainfall and more cyclones than usual.

The lowest night time minimum temperature was 13.2C on 19 July recorded in Fua’amotu for this month only. The highest maximum day time temperature was 31.1C on 31 July in Niuafo’ou. (The lowest night time temperature ever recorded was 8.7C on September 8, 1994 in Fua’amotu.)

The Met Service also advised that El Nino are excellent for growing sweet potatoes (provided enough water is given) and crops that depend on cooler night time temperatures. Fruit trees and vanilla also tend to do well during El Nino due to stress induce flowering.

However, it is no good for rain dependent crops in summer time and tuna fisheries tend to be poor during this time due to tuna stocks migrating away from Tonga waters.

El Nino is the movement of warm ocean water from the north of Australia to South America crossing the Pacific Islands every three to seven years.

The movement of this warm water changes the weather patterns in many countries with EL Nino usually lasting a year.