The people of Tonga are advised to conserve water and prepare for warmer days and higher chance for tropical cyclone activity in the next three to six-months. There is drought in the two Niuas, while drought warnings have been issued for the remaining islands.
Rainfall across Tonga during October was drier than normal with Fua'amotu with 19.6mm recording its lowest rainfall for October on record in 36 years, while Nuku'alofa with 10.1mm recorded its second lowest rainfall for October on record.
He said for October they recorded the highest maximum daytime temperature at 29°C on October 31, 2015 in Ha’apai with the lowest nighttime minimum temperature at 12.0°C on October 9, 2015 at Lupepau’u Airport.
‘Ofa said rainfall in the last three-months from August to October was drier than normal in the Niuas and normal elsewhere.
The amount of rainfall that fell in August and September eased the drought conditions during these past few months in Vava’u, Ha’apai and Tongatapu, but lack of rain in October brought back drought warnings for those locations, he said.
"Rainfall forecast for the next three to six months is for drier than normal conditions across Tonga. Warmer than average daytime temperatures are likely across the country in the next three-months. This pattern of three-month outlook is typical of El Nino years."
‘Ofa advised people of the need to conserve water. It is especially important for smaller islands that do not have ground water to collect as much water as possible when it rains and use it wisely for drinking purposes only.
He said planners are encouraged to activate their drought response and tropical cyclone plans and remain on alert for the possible continuation of below average rainfall and hotter conditions for the next six months.
Rainfall and tropical cyclone sensitive sectors such as agriculture and fisheries (food security), health, water resource management and tourism should take extra measures in public awareness and continue drought operations and tropical cyclone planning and the conservation of rain water.
The public is encouraged to continue seeking advice from the relevant authorities like the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) on the best practices to minimize the effects of El Nino.
He said all indicators and previous records showed further warming remains possible and all international climate models indicate that the strong El Nino is likely to persist until the end of this year and decline during the first quarter of 2016.
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 including Tonga, usually lasting for one-year.
For Tonga, El Nino usually brings cooler nighttime temperatures from May to October, hotter daytime temperatures from November to April with less rainfall and more cyclones than usual.