Climate outlook for February to May

Climate outlook overview

  • February rainfall is likely to be above average in much of the southern two-thirds of Western Australia, north-east Queensland and parts of south-east Australia, but drier than usual from the Top End to southern South Australia.
  • February to April rainfall is likely to be close to or above average for much of Australia. Highest chance of above average rainfall likely in Western Australia, across the north-eastern tropics and parts of south-east Australia.
  • Maximum temperatures for February to April are likely to be above average for most parts of Australia's coastline, Queensland, and across Tasmania, and below average from north-west to south-east Western Australia.
  • Minimum temperatures for February to April are very likely to be above average across most of Australia, and close to average in south-east Western Australia and western South Australia.
  • La Niña is underway in the tropical Pacific. While the event is likely past its peak strength, it is still expected to influence Australia’s rainfall during this outlook period. La Niña typically increases the likelihood of above average rainfall across eastern and northern Australia during summer are early autumn months.

February to April likely wetter than average across Western Australia, northeast Queensland and parts of southeast Australia

  • February to April is likely to be wetter than average for much of Australia, with a greater than 70% chance for much of Western Australia, north-east Queensland, and parts of south-east Australia, including eastern Tasmania.
  • February rainfall is likely to be above average across most of Western Australia away from the Kimberley, far northern Queensland, and parts of south-east Australia (greater than 65% chance).
  • Lower than usual rainfall is likely (greater than 60% chance) in an area of the Kimberley and from the Top End in the Northern Territory to southern South Australia in February.
  • The fortnight 8 to 21 February is likely to be wetter than average (chances exceeding 65%) in south-west Western Australia, with a weaker wet signal across parts of eastern Queensland. The northern half of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and most of South Australia is likely to be drier than average (chances of exceeding median rainfall are generally less than 40%).
  • While the outlooks indicate wetter than average conditions, southern parts of Australia are in their drier season, so rainfall (even if above average) is not likely to be sufficient to relieve long-term rainfall deficits.

Warmer days likely in coastal regions for February to April; warmer nights across most of Australia

  • Over the fortnight 8 to 21 February, maximum temperatures are likely (greater than 70% chance) to be warmer than average for most of the northern half of Australia. Cooler than average temperatures are likely (greater than 60% chance) across the southern half of Western Australia and most of south-east Australia (excluding Tasmania).
  • Mean minimum temperatures for the fortnight 8 to 21 February are likely (greater than 70% chance) to be above average across northern Australia, along the west coast of Western Australia, parts of north-east New South Wales, and Tasmania. Cooler than average temperatures are likely across most of South Australia and western New South Wales.
  • Mean maximum temperatures for February to April are likely (greater than 60% chance) to be higher than average for most of the Australian coastline, Queensland and across Tasmania. Cooler than average temperatures are likely (greater than 65% chance) from north-west to south-east Western Australia. For February, cooler than average temperatures are also more likely for south-west South Australia and parts of New South Wales and Victoria.
  • Mean minimum temperatures for February to April are very likely (greater than 80% chance) to be higher than average across most of Australia, although chances are closer to 50% over parts of south-east Western Australia and western South Australia. For February, these southern regions are more likely to experience cooler than usual temperatures.

Climate influences

  • La  Niña remains active but model outlooks suggest it has likely passed its peak, with a return to neutral conditions (neither El Niño nor La Niña) anticipated during late summer or early autumn.
  • Despite beginning to weaken, La Niña is still expected to have an influence on Australia’s rainfall. The Climate Outlooks indicated increased chances of above average rainfall in the coming months across large parts of Australia.
  • The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) is currently positive and is expected to tend towards neutral values for the remainder of February.
  • The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is strong over the Western Pacific. Along with other tropical wave activity, it has contributed to above-average rainfall and tropical cyclone and tropical low activity over northern Australia during the past fortnight. Its influence on Australia is expected to weaken over the next fortnight as it moves eastwards and away from the Australian region.
  • Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are warmer than average around much of Australia, in particular to the northwest and east of the country. Warm SSTs also extend across the Maritime Continent, Coral Sea and southwest Pacific. These warm SSTs are likely to be contributing to above-average rainfall forecast for parts of the country.
  • Australia's temperature and rainfall variability are also influenced by global warming caused by human activities. Australia's climate has warmed by around 1.44 °C ± 0.24 °C over the period 1910-2019, while recent decades have seen increased rainfall during the northern wet season (October–April), with more high intensity and short duration rainfall events. See State of the Climate for more details.
  • The Bureau's climate model uses the physics of our atmosphere, oceans, ice, and land surface combined with millions of observations from satellites and on land and sea. As a result, it incorporates the influence of climate change and natural climate drivers like ENSO, IOD, the MJO, and SAM in its outlooks.

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