WA Seasonal Temperature Outlook: probabilities for February to April 2007, issued 23rd January 2007

Mixed seasonal temperature odds over WA

The temperature outlook for the February to April period shows contrasting odds across Western Australia: warmer than average conditions are favoured in the far north, while a cooler than normal three-month period is more likely in the eastern interior.

The pattern of seasonal temperature odds across WA is due to higher than average temperatures in both the Pacific and Indian Oceans, with the effect from the Pacific being dominant.

Averaged over the coming three months, the chances are between 60 and 70% for higher than average maximum temperatures in the northern Kimberley. So in years with ocean patterns like the current, about six or seven February to April periods out of every ten are expected to be hotter than average in this part of the State, with about three or four out of ten being cooler.

Contrasting this, there are 60 to 65% chances (i.e. 35 to 40% chances of higher than average) for a cooler than normal February to April period over the eastern interior of WA. However, across most of the State, there are no strong shifts towards either warmer or cooler than normal conditions.

Outlook confidence is related to how consistently the Pacific and Indian Oceans affect Australian temperatures. During the February to April period, history shows this effect on maximum temperatures to be moderately consistent over parts of central and northern WA, but over most of the State the influence is only weakly or very weakly consistent (see background information).

The chances of seasonal minimum temperatures being higher than the median are between 60 and 75% over the northeast one-third of WA, indicating a moderate to strong shift in the odds towards warmer than normal conditions.

History shows the oceans' effect on minimum temperatures during the February to April period to be moderately to highly consistent in northeast WA, and generally moderately consistent over the rest of the State, particularly the populated areas.

probability of exceeding median maximum temperature - click on the image for a larger version of the map
probability of exceeding median minimum temperature - click on the image for a larger version of the map
 

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More information on this outlook is available from 9.00am to 5.00pm (WST) Monday to Friday by contacting the Climate and Consultancy section in the Bureau's Perth Office: (08) 9263 2222.
 

THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE SEASONAL OUTLOOK IS EXPECTED BY 22nd FEBRUARY 2007

Corresponding rainfall outlook

Maximum temperature departures from average for October to December 2006 - base period 1961-1990

Minimum temperature departures from average for October to December 2006 - base period 1961-1990

 

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 (www.bom.gov.au/silo/products/SClimate.shtml).

  • 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 (www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/).