Seasonal Streamflow Forecasts

Date: January–March 2020

  • Mostly low streamflows likely for January–March 2020.
  • Low flows observed at 91% of locations. Near-median flows mostly in the northeastern and southeastern regions.
  • The positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) event has ended and is expected to remain neutral. ENSO is currently neutral.

Streamflow forecast for January–March 2020

For January–March 2020, low streamflows are likely at 130 locations. Near-median flows are likely at 22 location smostly in northeastern, northwestern, southeastern regions, and northwestern Tasmania. There are no locations with high flow forecast. For this time of year, 52% of locations have low to very low skill, while 48% of locations have high to moderate skill mostly in the southern half of the country.

Forecasts have not been issued for 63 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

December 2019 catchment conditions

Low streamflows were recorded at 180 locations. Near-median flows were recorded at 16 locations and high flow at 1 location–mostly along the northern coast of Queensland, southern coast of Victoria and South Australia, and northwestern Tasmania.

December rainfall was below to very much below average across most of Australia. However, above-average rainfall was recorded in Pilbara-Gascoyne regions and central southern parts of Western Australia, and western half of Tasmania.

Below-average actual evapotranspiration (AET) occurred across most of the country due to low water availability, where modelled root zone soil moisture (0–100cm) was below to very much below average.

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

Climate influences

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has returned to neutral after one of the strongest positive IOD events to impact Australia in recent history. The IOD is expected to remain neutral in the coming months, meaning that it will have little influence on Australian and global climate.

In the Pacific Ocean, although indicators of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are neutral, the tropical ocean near and to the west of the Date Line remains warmer than average, potentially drawing some moisture away from Australia.

Most climate models indicate ENSO will remain neutral until at least the end of the southern hemisphere autumn, meaning it will have limited influence on Australian and global climate.

When the IOD and ENSO are neutral, Australia's climate can be influenced by more local or short-term climate drivers.

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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