Seasonal Streamflow Forecasts

Date: March–May 2017

  • Almost even numbers of low, near-median and high streamflows likely for March–May
  • Near-median and low flows observed at more than two-thirds of locations in February
  • El Niño–Southern Oscillation outlook upgraded to El Niño WATCH

Streamflow forecast for March–May

For March–May 2017, low and near-median streamflows are more likely at 29 and 20 locations across Australia, respectively. High flows are expected at 27 locations. Almost half of locations have very low forecast skill for this time of year. Locations with high skill are confined to southern Australia. Forecasts have not been issued for 85 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

February catchment conditions

Near-median and low streamflows were recorded at 56 and 57 locations respectively, mostly across eastern states including Tasmania. High flows were recorded at 40 locations, mainly in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

February rainfall was near average for Australia. However, this disguises a marked difference between east and west. Above-average rainfall was recorded in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Below-average rainfall was recorded in New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and northeastern South Australia.

Actual evapotranspiration was above average for much of western and central Australia, particularly Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory, primarily due to the increased water availability in early February. The rainfall has also led to an increase in modelled lower-layer soil moisture (10–100cm) across large parts of western and northern Australia.

For more details on February rainfall across Australia, read our Monthly Climate Summary. For more detailed information on February soil moisture and evapotranspiration across Australia, access the Australian Landscape Water Balance site.

Climate influences

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remains neutral—neither El Niño nor La Niña. However, seven of eight international models surveyed by the Bureau indicate steady warming in the central tropical Pacific Ocean over the next six months. Six models suggest El Niño thresholds may be reached by July 2017, although some caution must be taken at this time of year, with lower model accuracy through the autumn months compared to other times of the year.

El Niño is often associated with below-average winter–spring rainfall over eastern Australia and warmer than average winter–spring maximum temperatures over the southern half of Australia.

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 now also delivers 7-day streamflow forecasts for more than 100 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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