A strong El Niño persists in the tropical Pacific Ocean. The event is comparable to the record events of 1997–98 and 1982–83. International climate models suggest that El Niño SSTs are approaching their peak, and will decrease in the first quarter of 2016. With such warm SSTs, models suggest the tropical Pacific is unlikely to return to neutral until at least autumn 2016, although impacts on Australian climate are likely to decline prior to this.
El Niño’s influence on Australian rainfall is variable at this time of year, with both wetter and drier summers observed in past events depending on how quickly the event breaks down. However, on average an El Niño summer brings below-average rainfall across northern Queensland, and a slight drying influence across the southeast of Australia. Conversely, inland Western Australia often sees above-average rainfall at this time of year during El Niño.