THE CLIMATE KELPIE BLOG: What’s predicted in March?

Posted by BCG on 6th March 2020

The main Australian climate drivers, including both the El Nino – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) are currently neutral and forecast to stay that way throughout autumn. The other shorter-term drivers like the Southern Annual Mode (SAM) and the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) are also forecast to remain neutral over the coming weeks. When these climate drivers are neutral, Australia is less likely to see widespread above or below average seasonal rainfall. However, other influences can affect the Australian climate for example ocean temperatures around northern Australia. Therefore, the outlook for autumn suggests “Below Average” rainfall is likely over some parts of the tropical north and “Above Average” for areas of western and southern Australia with “Above Average” daytime temperatures predicted Australia wide. 

Rainfall Roundup

After an extremely dry start to summer, rain in mid-January and early February brought some relief to drought-stricken regions (Fig. 1). “Above Average” and “Very Much Above Average” rainfall was recorded in parts of WA, NT, SA and the east coast of Australia in February (Fig. 1) some of which can be attributed to the cyclone systems that hit Australia in the north and the severe storm events that affected eastern Australia. However, despite this much needed rain around 30% of Australia and 90% of NSW still have some serious or severe rainfall deficiencies (Fig 2.).

Figure 1. Rainfall deciles for February 2020.
Figure 2. Rainfall deciles for December to February 2020.

Rainfall Forecast

The BoM’s ACCESS model suggests that March is likely to deliver “Below Average” rainfall to much of northern Australia and “Above Average” across most of southern mainland Australia (Fig. 3). Note that at this time of year accuracy for the three-month forecast is moderate, except for Gippsland in Vic, parts of NSW and QLD as well as an area of WA, SA and NT which have low accuracy (Fig. 3).

Figure 3. Australian outlook for March to May 2020.

Temperature Roundup

In February, southern Australia experienced “Average” to “Below Average” maximum temperatures which contrasts with the northern part of the country which was “Above Average” and “Very Much Above Average” (Fig. 4).  Likewise, minimum temperatures were “Above Average” to “Very Much Above Average” across most of Australia but there were small pockets in SA where minimum temperatures were “Below Average” (Fig. 5).  

Figure 4. Maximum temperature deciles for February 2020.
Figure 5. Minimum temperature deciles for February 2020.

Temperature Forecast

The BoM’s ACCESS model forecast suggests that over the next three months maximum temperatures are likely to be “Above Average” across most of Australia except for parts of southern Australia which have an equal chance of being “Above” or “Below Average” (Fig. 6). Minimum temperatures are likely to be “Above Average” across Australia in autumn (Fig. 7). At this time of year accuracy for the three-month maximum temperature forecast is low for the southern half of WA, parts of SA and Vic, whilst the rest of the country has a moderate level of accuracy. For minimum temperatures, accuracy is moderate except for QLD, parts of NSW, NT and WA which has low accuracy at this time of year. 

Figure 6. March to May 2020 maximum temperature outlook.
Figure 7. March to May 2020 minimum temperature outlook.

Climate and Water Outlook Videos

The Bureau of Meteorology releases regular outlook videos, covering all this information. Watch the most recent video below.

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