WA Seasonal Temperature Outlook: probabilities for Spring 2008, issued 26th August 2008

A warmer spring favoured in northern and western WA

The Western Australia outlook for average spring (September to November) maximum temperatures shows odds favouring warmer than normal conditions over much of the Kimberley and western WA.

The pattern of seasonal temperature odds across Western Australia is mostly a result of continued warmth in the central to southeastern Indian Ocean, especially off the west coast of WA.

Averaged over September to November, the chances of above-normal maximum temperatures are between 60% and 70% over much of the Kimberley, whilst in most of western WA there is a 60% to 65% chance of higher than normal maxima (see map).

So for every ten years with ocean patterns like the current, about six or seven springs are expected to be warmer than average over northern and western WA, with only three to four cooler. Across the remainder of the state, the chances of a warmer than average spring for maximum temperature is between 50% and 60%, meaning roughly equal chances for warmer or cooler than normal conditions.

Outlook confidence is related to how consistently the Pacific and Indian Oceans affect Australian temperatures. During spring, history shows this effect on maximum temperatures to be moderately consistent across much of eastern WA, whilst it is only weakly consistent for the remainder of the state (see background information).

Average spring minimum temperatures are more strongly favoured to be warmer than normal across WA (see map). The chances of increased overnight warmth (averaged over the coming three months) are generally between 60% and 80%. So for every ten years with ocean patterns like the current, about six to eight springs are expected to be warmer than average across the state in terms of overnight temperatures, while about two to four are expected to be cooler.

History shows the oceans' effect on minimum temperatures during spring to be moderately to highly consistent across WA.

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 from 8.30am to 4.30pm (WST) Monday to Friday by contacting the Climate Services Centre in the Bureau's Perth Office: (08) 9263 2222.


Corresponding rainfall outlook

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

Minimum temperature departures from average for May to July 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/).