National Seasonal Rainfall Outlook: probabilities for July to September 2012, issued 20th June 2012
The national outlook for mid-winter to early spring (July to September) indicates that:
This outlook is a result of warmer than normal waters in the eastern Indian Ocean with some influence from neutral conditions in the central Pacific Ocean.
The chances of receiving above median rainfall during the July to September period are between 30 and 40% over southwest WA, southeastern parts of SA, the eastern half of the NSW-Queensland border, western Victoria and the northeastern half of Tasmania (see map). Such odds mean that for every ten years with similar ocean patterns to those currently observed, about six to seven July to September periods would be expected to be drier than average over this area, while about three to four years would be wetter.
In contrast, the chance of receiving above normal rainfall is between 60 and 65% over northern Queensland. However, it should be noted that rainfall is commonly low over much of tropical northern Australia at this time of the year and contributes only a small fraction of the annual total.
Over the rest of the country, the chances of a drier or wetter July through to September are roughly equal.
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 July to September period, history shows the effect to be moderately consistent through most of Australia, with the exception of the northern half of WA where the effect is only weakly or very weakly consistent. (see background information). Users should exercise caution when using this outlook in areas of low skill.
All key indicators remain at neutral (i.e., not El Niño nor La Niña) levels. Climate models surveyed by the Bureau of Meteorology show that the tropical Pacific Ocean is likely to warm further over the coming months. These models indicate an increased risk of conditions approaching, or possibly exceeding, El Niño thresholds during 2012. Climatologists will continue to monitor conditions and outlooks closely for any further developments over the coming months, with information on the likelihood of El Niño available fortnightly at 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: Robyn Duell on (03) 9669 4671, Andrew Watkins on 0439 381 010, Catherine Ganter on (03) 9669 4679.
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 18th July 2012
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.
Probability outlooks should not be used as if they were categorical forecasts. 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