National Seasonal Rainfall Outlook: probabilities for August to October 2007, issued 24th July 2007

Odds mainly near 50:50 for above normal rain, but drier season indicated in much of Qld

For the southern half of the country, the outlook for total August to October rainfall shows no strong swings in the odds towards either above-normal or below-normal rainfall. In the north of the country though, there are moderate to strong swings in the odds towards below-normal rainfall over most of northern and western Queensland. However, August to October includes the final two months of the northern dry season, so significant rain is uncommon during this period in tropical areas.

The pattern of seasonal rainfall odds across Australia is a result of continuing higher than average temperatures over much of the tropical Pacific Ocean, and also in parts of the tropical and sub-tropical Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean has been warming strongly in recent months, and this has had a strong influence on the outlook in Queensland.

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

The chances of exceeding the median rainfall for the August to October period are between 20 and 40% across northern and western Queensland (see map). In parts of eastern and southern SA together with the far western border areas of NSW, the chances are in the 35 to 40% range. However, caution is advised in applying this outlook in SA because of low predictive skill in this part of the country (see below).

So in years with ocean patterns like the current, about two to four August to October periods out of ten are expected to be wetter than average in these parts of Australia, while six to eight out of ten are expected to be drier.

Over the rest of country the chances of accumulating at least average rain for the season are relatively close to 50%.

Outlook confidence is related to how consistently the Pacific and Indian Oceans affect Australian rainfall. During August to October, history shows this effect to be moderately consistent across most of Queensland, the east and north of the NT and the northern inland of NSW. Elsewhere, it is generally weakly consistent, reaching moderate only in patches, including northern Tasmania (see background information).

The 30-day value of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) rose to +12 during June before settling back to +5 as a final monthly value. Nevertheless, this was the highest monthly value since April 2006 (+15). However, the SOI has continued to fall during July to an approximate 30-day value as at 21st July of −13. ENSO indicators remain mixed in terms of their progress towards a La Niña, despite this being the prediction from computer models. For routine updates and comprehensive discussion on any developments please see the ENSO 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, Lyn Bettio on (03) 9669 4165, David Jones on (03) 9669 4085.

Regional versions of this media release are available: | Northern Aust | Southeastern Aust | WA |

Regional commentary is available from the Climate Services Sections in the Bureau's Regional Offices:

Queensland -(07) 3239 8660
New South Wales -(02) 9296 1525
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

June 2007 rainfall in historical perspective

April to June 2007 rainfall in historical perspective


Background Information

  • The Bureau's seasonal outlooks are general statements about the probability or risk of wetter or drier than average weather over a three-month period. The outlooks are based on the statistics of chance (the odds) taken from Australian rainfall/temperatures and sea surface temperature records for the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are not, however, categorical predictions about future rainfall, and they are not about rainfall within individual months of the three-month outlook period. The temperature outlooks are for the average maximum and minimum temperatures for the entire three-month outlook period. Information about whether individual days or weeks may be unusually hot or cold, is unavailable.

  • This outlook is a summary. More detail is available from the contact people or from SILO (

  • Probability outlooks should not be used as if they were categorical forecasts. More on probabilities is contained in the booklet The Seasonal Climate Outlook - What it is and how to use it, available from the National Climate Centre. These outlooks should be used as a tool in risk management and decision making. The benefits accrue from long-term use, say over 10 years. At any given time, the probabilities may seem inaccurate, but taken over several years, the advantages of taking account of the risks should outweigh the disadvantages. For more information on the use of probabilities, farmers could contact their local departments of agriculture or primary industry.

  • Model Consistency and Outlook Confidence: Strong consistency means that tests of the model on historical data show a high correlation between the most likely outlook category (above/below median) and the verifying observation (above/below median). In this situation relatively high confidence can be placed in the outlook probabilities. Low consistency means the historical relationship, and therefore outlook confidence, is weak. In the places and seasons where the outlooks are most skilful, the category of the eventual outcome (above or below median) is consistent with the category favoured in the outlook about 75% of the time. In the least skilful areas, the outlooks perform no better than random chance or guessing. The rainfall outlooks perform best in eastern and northern Australia between July and January, but are less useful in autumn and in the west of the continent. The skill at predicting seasonal maximum temperature peaks in early winter and drops off marginally during the second half of the year. The lowest point in skill occurs in early autumn. The skill at predicting seasonal minimum temperature peaks in late autumn and again in mid-spring. There are also two distinct periods when the skill is lowest - namely late summer and mid-winter. However, it must always be remembered that the outlooks are statements of chance or risk. For example, if you were told there was a 50:50 chance of a horse winning a race but it ran second, the original assessment of a 50:50 chance could still have been correct.

  • The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is calculated using the barometric pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin. The SOI is one indicator of the stage of El Niño or La Niña events in the tropical Pacific Ocean. It is best considered in conjunction with sea-surface temperatures, which form the basis of the outlooks. A moderate to strongly negative SOI (persistently below –10) is usually characteristic of El Niño, which is often associated with below average rainfall over eastern Australia, and a weaker than normal monsoon in the north. A moderate to strongly positive SOI (persistently above +10) is usually characteristic of La Niña, which is often associated with above average rainfall over parts of tropical and eastern Australia, and an earlier than normal start to the northern monsoon season. The Australian impacts of 23 El Niño events since 1900 are summarized on the Bureau's web site (