Seasonal Streamflow Forecasts

Date: February–April 2018

  • Almost equal numbers of low, near-median and high streamflows likely for February to April
  • Low and near-median flows observed at 82% of locations in January
  • A weak La Niña continues, but is most likely past its peak

Streamflow forecast for February–April

For February–April 2018, near-median or low streamflows are more likely at 45 and 48 locations, respectively, across Australia. High flows are expected at 40 locations, mostly in the northern parts of Queensland and Northern Territory. Almost equal numbers of locations have low, moderate and high forecast skill for this time of year, while 39 locations have very low skill.

Forecasts have not been issued for 47 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

January catchment conditions

Low and near-median January streamflows were recorded at 84 and 57 locations, respectively, across Australia. High flows were recorded at 30 locations, mostly in the northern parts of the country.

Rainfall for Australia as a whole was above average for January. January rainfall was above average across Western Australia, most of South Australia west of Spencer Gulf, most of the Northern Territory, and much of the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. Monthly rainfall was below average for most of Queensland south of the Cape York Peninsula, and across the northeastern third of New South Wales. Rainfall for January was also below average for the western half of Tasmania, and across southwestern and northwestern Victoria and the adjacent parts of southeastern South Australia.

Actual evapotranspiration (ET) was below average in most of Queensland, northern New South Wales and eastern Northern Territory, coinciding with below-average soil moisture in January. Above-average evapotranspiration was observed in most of Western Australia and in the western half of South Australia.

Modelled lower-layer soil moisture (10–100cm) was below average in most parts of eastern states, including Tasmania and eastern parts of South Australia and Northern Territory. However, lower-layer soil moisture was above average in western Western Australia and southern South Australia, coinciding mostly with high rainfall in January.

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

Climate influences

A weak La Niña continues in the Pacific Ocean, but may have peaked in recent weeks. Sea surface temperatures in the central tropical Pacific have warmed slightly since late December, with most models now forecasting that La Niña will end in the southern hemisphere autumn.

Indicators of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) continue to reflect La Niña. Sea surface temperatures show a weak La Niña pattern, with the coolest waters concentrated in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Likewise, atmospheric indicators such as trade winds and cloudiness show clear La Niña . The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is also at La Niña levels, though has fluctuated during summer due to the passage of tropical weather systems.

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.

Service updates

The probability distribution graph has been replaced with a new boxplot. The boxplots provide an easier comparison between the probabilistic forecast and historical reference distributions.

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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