THE CLIMATE KELPIE BLOG: What’s predicted in February?
The La Niña remains active in the tropical Pacific Ocean and whilst it has likely reached its peak strength, it is still expected to continue influencing Australia’s rainfall patterns for the next few months. However, in late summer to early autumn it is anticipated that the Pacific Ocean will return to more neutral conditions.
The sea surface temperatures around the north and west of Australia look likely to remain ‘Above Average’ and are therefore continuing to contribute towards the forecast for ‘Above Average’ rainfall for parts of Australia.
The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is now having its time to shine. Currently in the western part of the Pacific Ocean and at moderate-strong strength, climate models are expecting it to remain in this position for the first half of February. An MJO in this location typically increases the tropical low activity around Australia and is therefore associated with ‘Above Average’ rainfall.
The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) is currently positive but it is expected to return to neutral values and remain that way for the next month. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) remains neutral and isn’t expected to change from this state anytime soon. Both SAM and the IOD are not likely to influence Australia’s rainfall for the next few months.
As a result, the overall outlook for February to April is for ‘Above Average’ rainfall for much of Australia except for western Tasmania where ‘Below Average’ rainfall is likely. In terms of temperatures, minimums are likely to be ‘Above Average’ across most of Australia and maximums are likely to be ‘Above Average’ across Tasmania as well as most of the Australian coastline. ‘Below Average’ maximum temperatures are however expected for much of central Australia and Western Australia.
In January, rainfall was hit and miss across Australia with much of the south east of the country recording ‘Above Average’ rainfall however, parts of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia received ‘Below Average’ rainfall (Fig 1). For the last three months large areas of Western Australia and the Northern Territory as well as parts of northern Queensland, South Australia, the north coast and central regions of New South Wales, south west Victoria and the north east of Tasmania all recorded ‘Above Average’ rainfall (Fig. 2). In contrast, much of western and central Tasmania, south eastern South Australia, the south east of Queensland as well as small areas in the Northern Territory and Western Australia were ‘Below Average’ (Fig. 2).
The BoM’s ACCESS model predicts that February is likely to deliver ‘Above Average’ rainfall along the Queensland and New South Wales coastlines (Fig. 3). The rest of Australia has equal chances of rainfall being ‘Above’ or ‘Below Average’ except for parts of South Australia, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and the very northern tip of Queensland where rainfall is likely to be ‘Below Average’ (Fig. 3). For the three-month forecast, February to April, rainfall is likely to be ‘Above Average’ for much of Australia except for western Tasmania where ‘Below Average’ rainfall is likely (Fig. 3). At this time of year accuracy for the three-month forecast is moderate to high for much of Australia except for a small area in south west Western Australia, parts of South Australia, the southern coastline of New South Wales and southern Queensland (Fig. 3).
Maximum temperatures in January were ‘Average’ to ‘Below Average’ for much of Australia except for parts of the Western Australia coastline and pockets of the Northern Territory and Queensland where it has been ‘Above Average’ (Fig. 4). Minimum temperatures were ‘Above Average’ over Queensland, Northern Territory, parts of the Western Australia coastline, pockets in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania, as well as southern parts of Victoria (Fig. 5). In contrast ‘Below Average’ minimum temperatures were recorded in parts of New South Wales, South Australia and a large area on the Northern Territory and Western Australia border (Fig. 5).
The BoM’s ACCESS model forecast suggests that over the next three months maximum temperatures are likely to be ‘Above Average’ across Tasmania as well as most of the Australian coastline, particularly for far north Queensland and the west coast of Western Australia (Fig. 6). The rest of the country has equal chances of maximum temperatures being ‘Above’ or ‘Below Average’ (Fig. 6). For minimum temperatures, most of Australia is likely to be ‘Above Average’ for the next three months (Fig. 7).
At this time of year accuracy for the three-month maximum temperature forecast is moderate to high for all of Australia except for an area in south-west South Australia where accuracy is low (Fig. 6). For minimum temperature, accuracy is moderate to high across most of Australia except for a large part of Queensland into the Northern Territory (Fig. 7).
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