Southeastern Aust Seasonal Temperature Outlook: probabilities for May to July 2008, issued 23rd April 2008

Neutral odds for a warmer than average season

For most of southeastern Australia, the outlook for maximum temperatures over the May to July period shows no strong swings in the odds towards warmer or cooler days, with a slight increase in the odds of cooler days in the north of South Australia and NSW.

Averaged over May to July, the chances are close to 50% for above-normal maximum temperatures in Tasmania, Victoria and southern SA and southern NSW (see map). So for every ten years with ocean patterns like the current, about five May to July periods are expected to be warmer than average over these parts of the country, with about five being cooler.

There is, however, a gradual decrease in the odds of above-normal maximum temperatures grading to the north, with only about a 40% chance in the far north of South Australia and over northern NSW. This is consistent with the rain outlook which favours above average falls in this region.

This pattern of seasonal maximum temperature odds across southeast Australia, in particular the reduced odds in the north, is mainly a result of the cooler than average temperatures in the equatorial Pacific associated with the now weakening La Niña. Indian Ocean temperatures are not having a significant impact on the odds of warmer or cooler maximum temperatures.

Outlook confidence is related to how consistently the Pacific and Indian Oceans affect Australian temperatures. During the May to July period, history shows this effect on maximum temperatures to be strongly consistent over Tasmania, the southeast districts of SA and most of Victoria, and moderate over the rest of the southern half of SA, and over southern and inland NSW, apart from the northwest (see background information). However, confidence levels are low in northern SA and in the northwest of NSW, and along the coast and adjacent ranges north from Sydney, so this outlook should be used with caution in those areas.

The neutral pattern of seasonal minimum temperature odds for the May to July period in across southeast Australia (see map) is a result of countering influences from the cooler than average temperatures in the equatorial Pacific (increasing the odds of warmer nights in the north while reducing them in the south) and warmer temperatures in the Indian Ocean near Australia (decreasing the odds in the north and increasing them in the south) producing an overall neutral outlook for minimum temperatures.

History shows the oceans' effect on minimum temperatures in the May to July period to be moderately to strongly consistent over northern and especially northeastern NSW, and moderately consistent over the remainder of NSW (apart from the southwest) and over Tasmania and parts of coastal Victoria and South Australia. Elsewhere the effect is only weakly or very weakly consistent.

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
 

Click on the maps above for larger versions of the maps. Use the reload/refresh button to ensure the latest forecast maps are displayed.

 

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:

Brisbane -(07) 3239 8660
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 27th May 2008

Corresponding rainfall outlook

Maximum temperature departures from average for January to March 2008 - base period 1961-1990

Minimum temperature departures from average for January to March 2008 - 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/).