DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladesh and its South Asian neighbors are expected to see below average rainfall in 2015 due to the impact of an El Nino weather pattern, which can bring on a dry spell in the region, a weather expert said on Wednesday.
"The entire region is prone to below average rainfall this year except Sri Lanka and Maldives," O.P. Sreejith told Reuters, after releasing the consensus forecast of the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum, a group of global weather experts affiliated to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
Global models show an El Nino condition has been established in the Pacific Ocean but there is uncertainty about its intensity, Sreejith said.
"There is consensus about the potential for adverse impacts of El Nino on the region’s monsoon rainfall," said Sreejith, a meteorologist with the Indian weather office.
El Nino, or a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific, can prompt dry spells in Southeast Asia and Australia and heavy rains in South America, curbing food crop output.
In India, a strong El Nino could result in droughts during the monsoon season and hit crops from rice to sugar and cotton in the country which is one of the world’s leading producers of these farm commodities.
India’s monsoon was hit by an El Nino in 2009 when the four-month long rainy season that starts in June turned out to be the driest in nearly four decades.
Last week, the Australian weather office evaluated at least a 70 percent chance of an El Nino weather pattern emerging as early as June.