El Niño brings its own set of weather disruptions, typically including drought from Australia to Indonesia and potent winter storms to the western United States.
"Nobody is going to say that the models are 100 percent accurate, but if you look at the climate models, the risk of El Nino has gone up in recent weeks," said Andrew Watkins, manager of climate prediction at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The World Meteorological Organization remains cautious about Australia’s climate projections, saying its outlook points to no significant variation in ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific later this year.
But the eastern Pacific has already been abnormally warm during the past few weeks off the coast of Peru, where El Niño got its name.
The warm currents have sent sardines and other cool-water fish elsewhere, leaving fishing nets empty and seabirds dying of starvation.
The warmth extends northward to Central America and westward into the Pacific beyond the Galapagos Islands, according to the latest satellite observations.