Weekly Tropical Climate Note

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Monsoonal conditions ease over northern Australia

After an extended period of monsoonal conditions across northern Australia, most international models predict the currently weak monsoon flow will continue to ease in the coming week. The initial focus of the monsoon was in Australia’s northwest following monsoon onset at Darwin on 20 December. In the last week, the focus of the monsoonal activity moved to the Gulf of Carpentaria and Far North Queensland as two tropical lows straddled the Cape York Peninsula and produced heavy rainfall. Rainfall totals in the last week exceeded 800 mm at several sites, with peak daily rainfall totals in excess of 300 mm also observed. The lows in the Queensland region are expected to weaken in the coming days and the monsoon trough currently over tropical Queensland is expected to completely dissipate. Northern Australia will then experience an inactive or break period in the northern Australian monsoon.

For more information on all tropical systems affecting the Australian region, please check the Bureau’s tropical cyclone webpage.

Unseasonal rains cause flooding in Thailand

Heavy rains have caused widespread flooding and multiple fatalities across southern Thailand in the last week. Some locations received more than 600 mm of rain during that time, affecting nearly one million citizens and causing major disruptions. Thailand normally experiences relatively dry and cool weather from December to February, when monthly rainfall is typically less than 60 mm. A burst of westerly winds across the equatorial eastern Indian Ocean, associated with a tropical atmospheric wave which moved across the region in the last week, enhanced the convection and rainfall which impacted Thailand. The tropical wave was not related to the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) which has been weak or indiscernible in recent weeks. There is disagreement between climate models and their MJO forecasts, but some do suggest a marginal strengthening may occur in about a week’s time.

See the Bureau's current MJO Monitoring information.

ENSO-neutral conditions to continue

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the tropical Pacific Ocean remains neutral, and most climate models predict it will remain so throughout the Australian summer. Ocean temperatures and atmospheric indicators remain well within the neutral range.

See the Bureau’s ENSO Wrap-Up for official El Niño, La Niña and IOD information.

Product code: IDCKGEW000