Increased rainfall odds for most of Australia

National Seasonal Rainfall Outlook: probabilities for November 2010 to January 2011, issued 26th October 2010

Increased rainfall odds for most of Australia

The national rainfall outlook for the November-January period favours wetter than normal conditions over large parts of Australia, most notably in eastern, northern and southwest Australia.

The pattern of seasonal rainfall odds across Australia is a result of warm conditions in the Indian Ocean, as well as cool conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean associated with the current La Niña event.

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

The chance of exceeding median rainfall for November to January are above 60% over most of Queensland, Northern Territory, NSW and South Australia as well as the Kimberley region of WA (see map). The chances of exceeding median rainfall are also between 60% and 70% in many western parts of WA, but much of this region is normally dry at this time of year. Odds increase to over 70% for the northern half of the NT as well as large parts of eastern Australia. Such odds mean that for every ten years with similar ocean patterns to those currently observed, about seven years would be expected to be wetter than average over these areas, while about three years would be expected to be drier during the January quarter.

For the remainder of Australia, namely large parts of South Australia, southern and western Victoria, eastern WA and all of Tasmania, the outlook is more neutral, with odds of exceeding median rainfall around 55%. This means that the chance of a wetter than average November to January period is 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. chance of receiving at least 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 the November to January period, history shows this effect to be moderately consistent over much of NSW, Queensland, NT and parts of Tasmania, but generally weakly consistent elsewhere (see background information).

A La Niña event remains well established in the Pacific Ocean. All of the computer models indicate the central Pacific will remain at levels typical of a La Niña through the remainder of 2010, with the majority suggesting the La Niña event will continue until early 2011. For routine updates and comprehensive discussion on any developments regarding El Niño and La Niña, 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: Agata Imielska on (02) 9296 1539, Elise Chandler on (03) 9669 4748, Andrew Watkins on (03) 9669 4360.

 

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 1555
Victoria -(03) 9669 4949
Tasmania -(03) 6221 2043
South Australia -(08) 8366 2664
Western Australia -(08) 9263 2222
The Northern Territory -(08) 8920 3813

 

THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE SEASONAL OUTLOOK IS EXPECTED BY 23rd November 2010

Corresponding temperature outlook

September 2010 rainfall in historical perspective

July to September 2010 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 (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)

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