Seasonal Streamflow Forecasts

Date: December 2018–February 2019

  • Mostly low streamflows across Australia for December 2018 to February 2019.
  • Low flows observed at 74% of locations in November across Australia. High and near-median flows recorded mostly along eastern coast and in northern regions.
  • The ENSO outlook remains at El Niño ALERT, as the positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) weakens.

Streamflow forecast for December 2018–February 2019

For December 2018–February 2019, low streamflows are more likely at 104 locations, mostly in the southern half of Australia. Near-median and higher than usual flows are likely at 24 and 13 locations respectively, mainly in the northern half of Australia and Tasmania. For this time of year, more than 55% of locations have low to very low skill, while 25% of locations have high skill, mostly in the southeast and southwest regions.

Forecasts have not been issued for 74 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 2018 catchment conditions

Low streamflows were recorded at 154 locations, spread across Australia. Near-median and high flows were recorded at 37 and 16 locations respectively–mostly in the Northern Territory, central eastern coast and eastern Tasmania.

November rainfall was above to well above average across Australia as a whole. Below-average rainfall was reported mainly across eastern Queensland, extending into northeastern New South Wales, and also for smaller areas in northern and west coast Western Australia.

Above-average actual evapotranspiration (AET) occurred in the southeastern and central regions of Western Australia, western South Australia, most of the Northern Territory, western parts of Queensland and New South Wales and parts of southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales in November. These areas of above-average AET mostly coincide with areas of above-average modelled lower-layer soil moisture (10–100cm), resulting from above-average November rainfall. Below-average AET occurred in Vistoria, Tasmania, large areas of Queensland and New South Wales and the southwest and northern parts of Western Australia.

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

Climate influences

The tropical Pacific Ocean remains ENSO-neutral, despite some indicators reaching El Niño levels. As a result, the Bureau's ENSO Outlook remains at El Niño ALERT. The positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) event in the tropical Indian Ocean weakened in the past fortnight.

Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean have now exceeded El Niño thresholds for more than a month. However atmospheric indicators–such as trade winds, cloud patterns, and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI)–have not reached El Niño levels. International climate models predict sea surface temperatures to remain at or above El Niño levels in December and January. By February, all but one of the eight surveyed models remain above El Niño thresholds. El Niño effects in Australia over summer typically include higher fire risk, greater chance of heatwaves, and fewer tropical cyclones.

The positive IOD event which began in early September has weakened, with the most recent value just below positive thresholds. It is likely that the positive IOD is nearing its end–consistent with model outlooks and the IOD's natural cycle.

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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