Climate outlook for February to May

Climate outlook overview

  • The chances of a wetter or drier than average February to April are roughly equal for most of Australia.
  • Daytime temperatures for February to April likely to be above average across almost all of Australia except the southwest, with February to April nights very likely to be warmer than average for most of the country.
  • The positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and the negative Southern Annular Mode (SAM) phase have ended, meaning most climate influences are now neutral.

50:50 rainfall outlook for February to April

  • For 20-26 January, a wetter than average week is likely across much of eastern Australia, while most of central and western Australia is likely to be drier than average. The dry signal shifts north to the northern half of Australia the following week (27 January to 2 February) with little shift in the odds towards a wetter or drier week further south.
  • February to April has roughly equal chances of being wetter or drier than average for most of Australia. This means there is no strong push towards wetter or drier than average conditions for the coming three months for most of the country. Some small parts of the east are slightly more likely to be drier than average, while parts of the north are slightly more likely to be wetter than average.
  • While outlooks for drier than average conditions have eased compared to those issued for late 2019, several months of above average rainfall are needed to see a recovery from current long-term rainfall deficiencies.

Warmer days and nights likely for February to April

  • Daytime temperatures for February to April are likely to be warmer than average for almost all of Australia, with very high chances across the Top End of the NT, Queensland, and northern and eastern NSW. March to May is also likely to be warmer than average for most of the country, except parts of the south.
  • Warmer nights are likely almost nationwide for February to April, with very high chances (greater than 80% chance) likely for most areas except parts of the southeast. March to May nights are also likely to be warmer than average nationwide.
  • With warmer days and nights likely for the coming months, further heatwaves remain possible.

Climate influences

  • The positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which contributed to the dry and warm conditions across much of Australia during the second half of 2019, ended in late December.
  • Similarly, the negative phase of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) has also weakened recently, with forecasts of SAM now fluctuating in the neutral range.
  • With these two major drying influences now no longer present, the likelihood of drier than average conditions has weakened. Outlooks broadly indicate equal chances of wetter or drier conditions, with no widespread or significant shift towards being wetter or drier than average. However, it is seasonally the hottest time of the year for southern Australia.
  • While tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures are likely to stay warmer than average, the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is forecast to remain neutral into 2020 and 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, while warm and dry soils—a legacy of Australia's warmest and driest year on record in 2019—are helping to keep temperatures warmer than average.
  • 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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