Dubai: The world’s foremost authority on weather says a strengthening El Niño event over coming months will bring contrasting swings in weather around the world, including the UAE and its neighbours on the Arabian Peninsula.

The region can expect more erratic dust storms, rain events and hot and cold spells when El Nino conditions collide with usual weather trends, suggest officials.

An El Niño event occurs when east and central Pacific sea surface temperatures are much warmer than usual which often signal wide-scale climate change around the globe affecting winds, precipitation, sea-level pressures and temperatures.

The latest climate outlook from the World Meterological Organisation (WMO) — the United Nation’s weather-monitoring body — said that from September to February, El Nino ‘s sea-surface temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius above average in Indian and Pacific tropical ocean waters will invite unpredictable weather events across the Middle East.

The warming of the seas will place “this El Nino event among the four strongest events since 1950s” when in years past regions of the world oscillated from floods and drought to cool and hot temperature anomalies in marked contrast to regular weather trends, the WMO said.

Omar Baddour, WMO scientist, told Gulf News, that while it’s difficult to pinpoint precise types of long-range weather anomalies beyond shorter time windows, countries on the Arabian Peninsula such as the UAE should not be surprised when unusual weather events appear this winter and in the new year.

When El Nino events happened in the past, the Arabian Peninusla was punished with drought, but new evidence suggests El Nino impacts now could bring increased rainfall in the wake of changing climate conditions overall in the last 15 years.

“In the Middle East, recent studies from example have shown that in pre-1980s, El Nino used to be associated with reducing rainfall in the average of Arabic Peninsula rainfall. However, in recent years, it seems El-Nino is associated with more rainfall over the same domain.


There is evidence the Indian Ocean relationship with climate in the region has shifted in the past three to four decades,” Baddour said.

“It is likely that the Middle East will see an erratic type of climate that could offset various and contrasting weather events in the coming seasons, including dust storms, warm spells, but also cold spells and excess rain during some period of time, depending on other regional atmospheric and land actors that can associate together with global disturbances caused by El-Nino. Unfortunately, these factors are not predictable more than few days to a week time ahead so it is difficult to predict now which weather pattern can dominate the coming seasons.”