Climate outlook for January to March

Climate outlook overview

  • The January to March 2019 climate outlook, issued 20 December 2018, indicates a drier than average three months is likely for WA, parts of the northern NT and eastern mainland Australia. The rest of the country shows no strong push towards a wetter or drier than average season.
  • Warmer than average days and nights are likely for almost all of Australia for the first three months of 2019. However, part of the western WA coastline is more likely to have cooler than average nights.
  • Tropical Pacific waters are at El Niño levels. However, the atmospheric component of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation has not yet responded, meaning an El Niño event is yet to become established. Outlooks suggest tropical Pacific waters are likely to remain at El Niño levels through the coming months. 
  • Indian Ocean temperatures off the western WA coastline are expected to remain cooler than average, likely limiting moisture flowing into WA. See the Climate Influences section for more information.

Drier than average start to the year likely for WA and parts of the east

  • January to March is likely to be drier than average for WA, parts of the northern NT and eastern mainland Australia. For the remainder of the country, there are roughly equal chances of a wetter or drier three months, i.e., no strong tendency towards a significantly wetter or drier than average season ahead. 
  • Historical outlook accuracy for January to March is moderate across western and southern mainland Australia, as well as the northern NT and northern Queensland. Elsewhere, accuracy is low to very low. See map for more detail.

Warmer than average start to 2019 likely for Australia

  • January to March days are very likely to be warmer than average, with probabilities exceeding 80% for most of the country. Over parts of the southern mainland and south of the Gulf of Carpentaria, the chances of exceeding median daytime temperatures is closer to 70%. Chances reduce to around 50% along WA's coast from Albany to Exmouth. 
  • January to March nights are also very likely to be warmer than average across most of Australia, with chances of warmer than average nights exceeding 80% over northern and eastern Australia. Far western WA is more likely to have cooler than average summer nights.
  • Historical accuracy for January to March maximum temperatures is moderate to high across most of Australia, but low surrounding the Great Australian Bight, and to the south of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Minimum temperature accuracy is moderate to high for most of Australia, except the central NT and central to western parts of Queensland, where accuracy is low to very low.

Climate influences

  • While tropical Pacific Ocean waters have warmed above El Niño levels, the atmospheric component of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has not responded, meaning an El Niño event is yet to become established. This means that the typical widespread influence on global and Australian climate and weather is currently unlikely. Outlooks suggest waters are likely to remain at El Niño levels through the coming months, which will increase the chance of the atmosphere responding, particularly later in the season. 
  • Waters off the western WA coastline are expected to remain cooler than average, reducing the amount of moisture evaporated off the eastern Indian Ocean, and therefore likely limiting moisture flowing into Western Australia.
  • In contrast to typical El Niño events, warmer than average waters are forecast to persist across the Top End, the Gulf of Carpentaria, and right down the east coast of the continent. This may lead to a more volatile rainfall pattern, with brief periods of high rainfall when weather patterns draw moisture from the warm seas inland. 
  • During December to April, the Indian Ocean Dipole typically has little effect on Australian climate, and therefore is not expected to influence Australia's weather over the coming summer.
  • In addition to the natural drivers such as the El Niño–Southern Oscillation and the IOD, Australian climate patterns are being influenced by the long-term increasing trend in global air and ocean temperatures.
  • Bureau climatologists continually monitor the climate for any significant developments, with information on El Niño/La Niña and IOD events available fortnightly via the ENSO Wrap-Up. For a summary of Pacific and Indian Ocean outlooks, please see the Climate Model Summary.

Product code: IDCKOATCO2