National Seasonal Temperature Outlook: probabilities for July to September 2008, issued 26th June 2008

Warmer season for western and southern Australia

The national outlook for average maximum temperatures during the mid-winter to early spring period (July to September), shows a moderate to strong shift in the odds favouring warmer days over much of the west and south of the country.

The pattern of seasonal maximum temperature odds across Australia is a result of the combined effects of above average temperatures in the Indian Ocean surrounding the west coast of WA, and a warming trend in the Pacific. The Indian Ocean signal dominates the outlook.

Averaged over the September quarter, the chances are between 60 and 75% for above-normal maximum temperatures over most of WA, the southern NT, all of SA and Victoria, far southwest Queensland, western NSW and parts of Tasmania (see map). In a large part of central and western WA the chances are between 75 and 85%. So for every ten years with ocean patterns like the current, about six to eight July to September periods are expected to be warmer than average over these parts of Australia, with about two to four being cooler.

Over the rest of the country, the chances of exceeding the three-month median maximum temperature are between 40 and 60%. So the chances of being warmer than normal are about the same as the chances of being cooler.

Outlook confidence is related to how consistently the Pacific and Indian Oceans affect Australian temperatures. During the September quarter, history shows this effect on maximum temperatures to be moderately consistent in WA, the NT, Queensland, northern and eastern NSW, and far northern Tasmania. Elsewhere it is only weakly consistent (see background information). Therefore, this outlook should be used with caution in Victoria, Tasmania, western NSW and much of SA.

The outlook for seasonal minimum temperatures shows a mixed pattern of odds: warmer nights are favoured in southwest WA (60-70% chances), while cooler nights are favoured in eastern Queensland (35-40% chances of exceeding the median) - see map. Over the rest of the country the odds are in the 40 to 60% range, so the chances of being warmer than average are similar to the chances of being cooler.

History shows the oceans' effect on minimum temperatures in July to September to be moderately consistent over Queensland and the east of the NT, the southern half of WA, and parts of north and east NSW. 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.

The following climate meteorologists in the National Climate Centre can be contacted about this outlook: Clinton Rakich on (03) 9669 4671, David Jones on (03) 9669 4085, Lyn Bettio on (03) 9669 4165.

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 8700
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


Corresponding rainfall outlook

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

Minimum temperature departures from average for March to May 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 (

  • 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 (