Climate outlook for February to April

Issued 25 January 2017

Climate outlook overview

  • February to April rainfall is likely to be below average in much of eastern Australia and above average in parts of the northwest and the northern NT.
  • February is likely to be drier in parts of the east and wetter over WA and the northern NT.
  • Days and nights across eastern Australia are likely to be warmer than average for February to April, with cooler days and nights more likely in northwest Australia.
  • Outlooks for the northwest are being driven by tropical activity (such as the north Australian Monsoon and the Madden–Julian Oscillation which is forecast to be active in early February). Further south, forecasts for above average pressure will likely bring clear skies and warmer than average daytime temperatures to parts of the southeast (see the Climate Influences section for more detail).

Drier conditions likely for eastern and central Australia, wetter for northern Australia

  • February is likely to be drier for southern and central Queensland and northern NSW, but wetter for WA and the northern NT. The forecast for wetter than average conditions in the northwest is likely to ease after February.
  • February to April rainfall is likely to be below average for parts of eastern and central Australia, but above average for northern WA and the northern NT.
  • Outlooks in the northwest are being driven by active tropical weather in early February, while further south, higher than average pressure is likely.
  • Historical outlook accuracy for February to April rainfall is somewhat patchy, with moderate accuracy over most of the country, but low accuracy in inland parts of the NT extending along the WA border, as well as in small patches in Queensland, western NSW, and along the border of NSW and Victoria.

Warmer three months likely for eastern and central Australia; cooler for northwest Australia

  • February to April maximum temperatures are likely to be warmer than average in eastern and central Australia and cooler than average in northern WA and the northern NT.
  • February to April minimum temperatures are likely to be warmer than average in parts of eastern Australia, but cooler in northern and central WA, and the northern two-thirds of the NT.
  • Outlooks in the northwest are being driven by active tropical weather in early February, while further south, higher than average pressure is likely.
  • Historical accuracy for maximum temperature is moderate to high over most of Australia. Minimum temperature accuracy is very low to low in parts of the east and the NT, but moderate for much of WA, southern SA and Tasmania.

Climate influences

  • The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remains neutral, as does the Indian Ocean Dipole.
  • The wetter than normal outlook for parts of northern Australia is likely driven by an active phase of the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO). When the MJO is active in the Australian region at this time of year the likelihood of above average rainfall and development of tropical cyclones is increased for northern Australia. Warm waters in the western Pacific Ocean are also increasing the moisture flowing into northern Australia during monsoonal bursts.
  • Further south, a persistent sub-tropical ridge (higher than average pressure across the continent) means there is likely to be fewer low pressure systems than average and passing cold fronts may not extend as far north as usual.
  • In addition to the shorter-term natural drivers, Australian climate patterns are being influenced by the long-term increasing trend in global air and ocean temperatures.
  • Bureau climatologists continually monitor the climate for any significant developments, with information on El Niño/La Niña and IOD events available fortnightly via the ENSO Wrap-Up. For a summary of Pacific and Indian Ocean outlooks, please see the Climate Model Summary.