Seasonal Streamflow Forecasts

Date: December 2019–February 2020

  • Mostly low streamflows likely for December 2019–February 2020.
  • Low flows observed at 86% of locations across Australia in November. Near-median and high flows scattered across the country
  • The positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) continues to be the main influence on Australian climate.

Streamflow forecast for December 2019–February 2020

For December 2019–February 2020, low streamflows are likely at 112 locations, across Australia. Near-median flows are likely at 23 locations and high flows at 4. These are in the northern part of the country, where flow volumes are normally low at this time of year, and at locations in southern Australia that had rain in recent months. For this time of year, 55% of locations have low to very low skill, while 45% of locations have high to moderate skill.

Forecasts have not been issued for 76 locations, due to very low model skill or missing observed data. We suggest using the observed climatology for these locations.

Use the map below to zoom and pan to view the forecast locations. Zoom in to view pie chart tercile forecasts, and then click on a pie chart to go directly to the latest forecast.

Note: The locations on the map are either site-based forecasts or total catchment inflow forecasts. Site information provides details on which locations are site-based or total inflow forecasts. For more details about how the pie chart forecasts are displayed go to the Frequently Asked Questions.

Information video

Outlook video

  • Legend image demonstrating moderate to high skill

    Moderate to high skill

  • Legend image demonstrating low skill

    Low skill or missing climate data

  • Legend image demonstrating very low skill

    Very low skill or missing antecedent condition data

November 2019 catchment conditions

Low streamflows were recorded at 173 locations, across Australia. Near-median and high flows were recorded at 25 and 4 locations, respectively–across the country.

November rainfall was below to very much below average across most of Australia, including eastern New South Wales; eastern, northern, and far western Queensland; most of the Northern Territory and South Australia; and most of Western Australia except some parts of the northwest and west coast.

Above-average rainfall was restricted to small areas, including western Tasmania, part of the Pilbara coast, and an area of central northern New South Wales. Above-average rainfall in central northern New South Wales was mostly due to storms in the first days of the month, with the remainder of November being generally dry.

Above-average actual evapotranspiration (AET) mainly occurred in parts of far central Queensland, northern New South Wales and eastern Western Australia. Below-average AET occurred across most of the country, where modelled root zone soil moisture (0–100cm) was below to very much below average.

For more details on November rainfall across Australia, read our monthly Climate Summary and Drought Statement. For more information on November soil moisture and evapotranspiration across Australia, access the Australian Landscape Water Balance site.

Climate influences

The strong positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) event continues and is forecast to remain strong until the end of 2019, while the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remains neutral.

IOD events break down when the monsoon trough transitions into the southern hemisphere, which typically occurs in early December. However, the monsoon trough is likely to be delayed this year, likely due to the strength of the current positive IOD event. As a result, the prolonged and widespread dry conditions experienced over much of Australia during 2019 (related to this event) are likely to persist into December, before easing later in summer.

The latest outlooks from the surveyed models suggest that an ENSO-neutral state is the most likely scenario for the remainder of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.

Get the latest El Niño update in our fortnightly ENSO Wrap-Up. Find out about likely seasonal rainfall conditions in our current Rainfall outlook. For a range of other detailed information on Australia's climate go to Climate Information.

7–day streamflow forecasting service

The Bureau also delivers 7-day streamflow forecasts for more than 160 sites around Australia.

Combining near real-time rainfall and streamflow observations with rainfall forecasts, we calculate how much runoff is likely, and flow of this water down the stream network. A forecast is generated for each of the next seven days. Access the 7-day streamflow forecasts.

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