National Seasonal Rainfall Outlook: probabilities for January to March 2005, issued 16th December 2004

Neutral odds for March quarter rainfall

The chances of accumulating at least average March quarter (Jan-Mar) rain are close to 50% for the whole country, the Bureau of Meteorology announced today. So there are no strong swings in the odds towards wetter or drier conditions for the first three months of 2005.

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

For the January to March period, the chances of above median rainfall are between 40 and 60% across all States and Territories (see map). So in years with ocean patterns like the current, about five seasons out of ten are expected to be wetter than average over Australia, with about five out of ten being drier.

This "neutral" outlook is due to the combined effect of above average temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and near-average temperatures in the Indian Ocean.

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).

Climate patterns across the Pacific continue to show some signs that are consistent with El Niño (eg warm central Pacific temperatures), and some that are not (eg wind and cloud patterns). The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) dropped from –4 in October to –9 in November. The approximate SOI for the 30 days ending 13th December was –6.

For routine updates on the latest data relating to El Niño, together with details on what the phenomenon is and how it has affected Australia in the past, see the El Niño Wrap-Up.


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, Felicity Gamble on (03) 9669 4256, David Jones on (03) 9669 4085
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 2004 rainfall in historical perspective

September to November 2004 rainfall in historical perspective


Background Information