24 Oct 2011

Increased cyclone activity predicted for the western areas of southwest Pacific

3:06 pm on 24 October 2011

A senior climatologist at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology says there's a good chance the west of the southwest Pacifc will experience more cyclones this summer.

Dr Andrew Watkins says the weak La Nina weather pattern has created a situation where there is a 65 percent higher likelihood of cyclones in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

Dr Watkins says in more eastern areas such as Samoa, Tuvalu, the Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Tonga there's only a 40 percent of chance of greater than average cyclone activity.

He says the La Nina pattern is forecast to fade out after March but that doesn't mean an El Nino pattern will take its place.

"A little too early to make a call about whether it will be replaced by a El Nino at this stage. If you look out a long way ahead, most likely its heading towards more neutral conditions. Not an El Nino and not a La Nina either. But the third state, which is the neutral or more average sort of conditions that you get."

Dr Andrew Watkins.