Seasonal Streamflow Forecasts

Date: February–April 2020

  • Mostly low streamflows likely for February–April 2020.
  • Low flows observed at 73% of locations across Australia in January. Near-median flows mostly in the north and eastern regions.
  • Tropical Pacific Ocean remains ENSO neutral.

Streamflow forecast for February–April 2020

For February–April 2020, low streamflows are likely at 108 locations across Australia. Near-median and high flows are likely at 39 and 9 locations, respectively. For this time of year, 49% of locations have low to very low skill, while 51% of locations, mostly in the southern half of the country, have high to moderate skill.

Forecasts have not been issued for 59 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 streamflows were recorded at 146 locations, across Australia. Near-median and high flows were recorded at 40 and 14 locations, respectively–mostly in the northern and eastern regions. It is observed that low flows were recorded at 73% of locations in January, that are decreased from 91% of locations in December 2019.

January rainfall was above average across most of Australia. Above-average rainfall was recorded for much of Western Australia. Rainfall was also above average for much of inland northern Queensland and into eastern parts of the Northern Territory, parts of northeast New South Wales, and a large area of Victoria. Rainfall was below to very much below average across large areas of New South Wales.

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. Above-average AET occurred for much of Western Australia, roughly coinciding with wetter soils.

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

Climate influences

In the Pacific Ocean, the indicators of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remain neutral. Climate models indicate ENSO is likely to remain neutral until at least the end of the southern hemisphere autumn, meaning it will have limited influence on Australian and global climate in the coming months.

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is neutral. The IOD typically has little influence on Australian climate from December to April.

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.

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.

Effects of recent bushfires on streamflows

The Bureau is working closely with State agencies and the research sector to understand the extent of fire effects, and is assessing potential impacts on specific fire-affected catchments. Up to 60 seasonal streamflow forecast locations have burnt areas of between 5–100% of the catchment area. In 46 of the seven-day streamflow forecast locations burnt areas are between 5–89% of the catchment. Hydrological response and streamflows in these catchments will depend on vegetation type, fire severity, soil properties, reductions in forest canopy cover, and the rate and degree of vegetation recovery over the following months and years.

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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