A climate researcher has poured cold water on the suggestion we should gear up for another flood event.
A climate researcher has poured cold water on the suggestion we should gear up for another flood event. Max Fleet

Climate expert pours cold water on "2011 flood" fears

TALK of climate mimicking the lead-up to the 2011 floods is misguided, a University of Southern Queensland climate expert says.

Media reports have spread fears that a switch from El Nino to La Nina may soon occur, creating the perfect storm which brought the 2011 floods across Queensland.

Far north Queensland copped its heaviest May rainfall on record over the weekend, with Cooktown recording 211mm in 24 hours, the highest in 120 years. Cairns received its highest rainfall since 1920, with just over 100mm recorded.

But a climate researcher has poured cold water on the suggestion we should gear up for another big wet just yet.

While the El Nino cycle, characterised by hot, dry weather which has sent much of the state into drought, is coming to an end, "We're at a different time of year, going into the dry season - so it would be somewhat unlikely," University of Southern Queensland climate scientist Dave McRae said.

"Because it's been such a strong El Nino event and it's been so dry, there's been an unusually high level of interest in what the next few months will hold. This is because Autumn is the key transition time when climate patterns such as El Nino break down.

"But we need to take a step back and take a more pragmatic view," Mr McRae said.

"It's a good news story that the El Nino is breaking down - but  it is still too early to know yet if we're going into a La Nina cycle or a neutral cycle.

"The big difference between now and the lead-up to the 2010-11 floods is that back then, the SOI (Southern Oscillation Index) was up around 20+. That's very high. At the minute, it's still in negative values.

"Looking out to see what spring holds will be a key index to watch."

This week's forecast for Bundaberg remains dry, with a 20% chance of rain on Friday the wettest prediction so far according to the Bureau of Meteorology.



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