Southeastern Aust Seasonal Rainfall Outlook: probabilities for October to December 2010, issued 23rd September 2010
The southeastern Australian outlook for total rainfall over the December quarter (October to December), is favouring wet conditions over large parts of NSW and South Australia with a neutral outlook for most of Victoria and Tasmania.
The pattern of seasonal rainfall odds across Australia is a result of recent warm conditions in the Indian Ocean as well as a cooling trend in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, both of which are associated with a La Niña event.
The chances of exceeding the median rainfall for October to December are over 60% for most of NSW, South Australian pastoral and northern agricultural areas, and far northwestern Victoria. This means that for every ten years with ocean patterns like the current, about six years would be expected to be wetter than average over these areas, while about four years would be expected to be drier during the December quarter.
For the remainder of southeastern Australia, which includes Tasmania, most of Victoria, and southeastern New South Wales, the outlook is neutral with odds around 55%. This means that the chance of a wetter than average December quarter are about as likely as the chance of below average conditions in these areas.
An expanded set of seasonal rainfall outlook maps and tables, including the probabilities of seasonal rainfall exceeding given totals (e.g. 200 mm), is available on the "Water and the Land" (WATL) part of the Bureau's website.
Outlook confidence is related to how consistently the Pacific and Indian Oceans affect Australian rainfall. During October to December, history shows this effect to be moderately consistent over the western half of NSW, most of SA, Victoria and central and northern Tasmania. However, confidence is only weakly to very weakly consistent over the northern inland and central and southern coast of NSW (see background information).
A La Niña event is now well established in the Pacific Ocean. Long-range models surveyed by the Bureau of Meteorology suggest the central Pacific will continue to exceed La Niña thresholds through spring, with the majority indicating the La Niña event will continue into at least early 2011. For routine updates and comprehensive discussion on any developments regarding El Niño and La Niña, please see the ENSO Wrap-Up.
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More information on this outlook is available Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 5.00pm local time by contacting the Bureau's Climate Services sections in Queensland, NSW, SA, Victoria and Tasmania at the following numbers:
|Sydney -||(02) 9296 1555|
|Adelaide -||(08) 8366 2664|
|Melbourne -||(03) 9669 4949|
|Hobart -||(03) 6221 2043|
THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE SEASONAL OUTLOOK IS EXPECTED BY 26nd October 2010
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 (Seasonal Climate Outlook Products).
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 past El Niño events since 1900 are summarized on the Bureau's web site (El Niño - Detailed Australian Analysis), and past La Niña events (La Niña - Detailed Australian Analysis)
© Australian Government, Bureau of Meteorology