Climate outlook for January to April

Climate outlook overview

  • January rainfall is likely to range from average to drier than average in eastern Australia, while average to wetter than average conditions may occur over much of WA and SA.
  • In February this pattern is likely to weaken, and although there remains a slight dry signal in parts of the east, much of the country shows no strong tendency towards either wetter or drier than average conditions for February to April.
  • Days and nights are likely to be warmer than average for much of Australia from January through to April.
  • The positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has weakened, with most climate influences now neutral. 

Wetter in west, but drier in east likely for January to March

  • January is likely to be wetter then average across most of WA, the far north and south of the NT, and the western half of SA. Northern and central parts of Queensland, western and southern NSW, and northeast Victoria are likely to be drier for the month.
  • In February, this pattern is likely to weaken. A slightly increased chance of drier conditions remains in the east, but most of the rest of the country shows roughly equal chances of wetter or drier than average conditions for February to April.  
  • While outlooks for drier than average conditions have eased compared to those issued for late 2019 for most areas, several months of above average rainfall would be needed to see a recovery from current long-term rainfall deficiencies.

Warmer days and nights likely for early 2020

  • Daytime temperatures for January to March 2020 are likely to be warmer than average for almost all of Australia, with very high chances across the NT, Queensland, NSW and eastern Victoria. February to April is also likely to be warmer than average Australia wide.
  • However, January days are likely to be cooler in northern WA and western Tasmania, with warmer January days likely for the north and east, and along much of the coastline of SA and WA.
  • Warmer nights are likely nationwide for January to March, with very high chances (greater than 80% chance) likely for most areas. February to April nights are also very likely to be warmer than average nationwide.

Climate influences

  • The positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which likely contributed to dry conditions across much of Australia during winter and spring 2019, has weakened to just below positive IOD thresholds.
  • Likewise, a recent persistent negative phase of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) has also weakened and is currently neutral.
  • With these two major drying climate influences easing, the likelihood of drier conditions has weakened somewhat. However, some residual drier conditions remain likely in the east.
  • While tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures are likely to stay warmer than average, the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is expected to remain neutral into 2020, and will have a limited influence on Australian climate.
  • Abnormally warm sea surface temperatures in the western tropical Pacific Ocean and to the west of Australia may also be contributing to some changes in weather patterns over the continent, including the trend towards dry conditions in the east of the country.
  • In addition to the natural drivers such as ENSO and the IOD, Australian climate patterns are being influenced by the long-term increasing trend in global air and ocean temperatures.

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