National Seasonal Rainfall Outlook: probabilities for January to March 2004, issued 16th December 2003

Neutral odds for March quarter rainfall

The Bureau's seasonal rainfall outlook for the March quarter shows no strong swings in the odds towards wetter or drier conditions. The chances of above average seasonal falls are generally close to a neutral 50%. This outlook is due to the fact that Pacific and Indian Ocean temperatures don't strongly influence Australian rainfall during mid-summer to early autumn.

For the January to March period, the chances of above median rainfall are between 40 and 60% across all States and Territories, except for two small patches in Queensland where the chances are slightly less than 40% (see map). So with climate patterns like the current, about 5 seasons out of 10 are expected to be wetter than average over Australia, with about 5 out of 10 being drier.

probability of exceeding median rainfall - click on the map for a larger version of the map

Outlook confidence is related to the influence of Pacific and Indian Ocean temperatures on seasonal rainfall. During the March quarter, history shows this influence to be moderately consistent through eastern parts of NSW and Queensland, much of the NT and southern and western WA. Elsewhere the influence is only weakly or very weakly consistent (see background information).

Following a recent cooling trend, the tropical Indian Ocean warmed slightly during November, as did the tropical Pacific. For more detail see the El Niño Wrap-Up. The temperature patterns in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Oceans are not extreme enough to produce large swings in the outlook probabilities.

November's value of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was –3, slightly below the –2 recorded in October. The approximate SOI for the 30 days ending 14th December was +1.


Click on the map above for a larger version of the map. Use the reload/refresh button to ensure the latest forecast map is displayed.

The following climate meteorologists in the National Climate Centre can be contacted about this outlook: Grant Beard on (03) 9669 4527, Janita Pahalad on (03) 9669 4859, David Jones on (03) 9669 4085, Felicity Gamble on (03) 9669 4256.
Regional versions of this media release are available: | Qld | NSW | Vic | Tas | SA | WA | NT |

Regional commentary is available from the Climate and Consultancy Sections in the Bureau's Regional Offices:
Queensland -(07) 3239 8669 or (07) 3239 8666
New South Wales -(02) 9296 1522
Victoria -(03) 9669 4949
Tasmania -(03) 6221 2043
South Australia -(08) 8366 2664
Western Australia -(08) 9263 2222
The Northern Territory -(08) 8920 3813



Corresponding temperature outlook

November 2003 rainfall in historical perspective

September to November 2003 rainfall in historical perspective


Background Information