CLIMATEDOGS NATIONAL FORECAST

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.

Rainfall Roundup

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).

Figure 1. Rainfall deciles for January 2021.
Figure 2. Rainfall deciles for November 2020 to January 2021.

Rainfall Forecast

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).

Figure 3. Australian rainfall outlook for February to April 2021.

Temperature Roundup

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).

Figure 4. Maximum temperature deciles for January 2021.
Figure 5. Minimum temperature deciles for January 2021.

Temperature Forecast

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).

Figure 6. February to April 2021 maximum temperature outlook.
Figure 7. February to April 2021 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.

REGIONAL/SECTOR FORECASTS

If you're looking for a forecast for your specific region or sector, you can find direct links here!
New South Wales
Seasonal Conditions Report (All)
(NSW DPI)
Moisture Manager (Cotton)
(Cotton Info)
Queensland
Seasonal Climate Newsletter (All)
(Sugar/Livestock)
(USQ & QDAF)
South Australia
The Fast Break
(Agriculture Victoria)
Tasmania
The Fast Break
(Agriculture Victoria)
Victoria
The Fast Break (Grains/Livestock)
(Agriculture Victoria)
Western Australia
Seasonal Climate Outlook
(DPIRD)

CLIMATEDOGS FORECAST HISTORY

MEET THE CLIMATEDOGS

ENSO
El Niño Southern Oscillation
During La Niña years, drives higher winter and spring rain across Australia. During El Niño, herds the rain away.
Learn more about Enso >
INDY
Indian Ocean Dipole
Herds moistures from the warm north-east Indian Ocean across Australia to influences spring rainfall.
Learn more about Indy >
RIDGY
Subtropical Ridge
Blocks rain-bearing fronts in summer over southern Australia. Less active in winter, allowing winter rains through.
Learn more about Ridgy >
SAM
Southern Annular Mode
Herds cold fronts up from the Southern Ocean, which can bring rain to southern Australia.
Learn more about Sam >
EASTIE
East-Coast Low Pressure System
Can bring strong winds and heavy rains to the east coast, mainly in Autumn and Winter.
Learn more about Eastie >
MOJO
Madden -Julian Oscillation
Can bring strong winds and heavy rains to the east coast, mainly in Autumn and Winter.
Learn more about Mojo >

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