Farmers are being cautioned to prepare contingency plans amid early signs of a large El Nino climate event this year. In New Zealand, the ocean-driven system typically brings cooler, wetter conditions, bringing higher rainfall to regions that are normally wet, and often drought to areas that are usually dry. The National Institute of Water and Atmosphere has given a 50 per cent chance of an El Nino developing over winter, while international forecasts have put the probability of one arriving by the end of the year as high as 80 per cent. Federated Farmers adverse events spokeswoman Katie Milne saw the picture as cause for vigilance. “Farmers do need to be aware it is getting to be more of a stronger prediction than just a hint – and to be thinking about what happened in affected areas in those years when we had strong El Ninos,” she said. More