Griffith may soon face another drought.
Climate scientists have confirmed the world is headed into a major drought-bringing El Nino event, which will lift global temperatures and lead to bushfires and water shortages in the Murray-Darling Basin.
It is understood the Bureau of Meteorology will announce tomorrow that the El Nino event is all but certain.
Sea-surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific were recording anomalies of more than 1 degree, a combination that had not previously been seen in weekly data going back to 1991, according to a bureau climate forecaster.
Australia's measure of El Nino thresholds is sustained warmth of sea-surface temperatures of 0.8 degrees above average in the key regions surveyed, a higher bar to clear than that set by the United States of America and other agencies.
"You can see a warming in the eastern Pacific, which looks to be a classic (El Nino) event," said Doctor Agus Santoso, an El Nino modeller at the University of NSW's Climate Change Research centre.
Scientists, though, are surprised that the build-up of unusual warmth in the eastern Pacific compared with the west is happening so early in the year. "It's quite rare – this is an interesting one," Dr Santoso said.
Griffith Mayor John Dal Broi said with an El Nino event forecast it could point that the area was heading into another time of drought.
“It would be very very damaging to the irrigation areas,” Councillor Dal Broi said.
“In terms of water supply for our cities and towns there’s always enough, and there’s usually enough water for permanent plantings.
“The area I do feel for is the irrigation industry that relies on general security water, that’s the water that grows rice, cotton, wheat, cereals, vegetables, if we enter into El Nino and we don’t get at least what the growers received last year, which was just over 50 per cent of their allocation, it would have a dramatic effect on the economy of this Murrumbidgee Valley.”
An El Nino event this year would be bad news for areas also suffering serious or severe rainfall deficiency.
The bureau declined to say that its up-coming El Nino report will confirm the event.
It's the early start to the process, though, that has climate scientists concerned the planet may be on course for a particularly strong El Nino event.
"If it peaks in winter then dies off it's interesting," Dr Santoso said.
"But if it keeps going up and peaks in summer, that could potentially be a big El Nino."
The biggest impact was likely to be felt in towns in the Murray-Darling Basin.
“We’ll be watching the weather with our fingers crossed,” Cr Dal Broi said.