Seasonal Streamflow Forecasts

Date: March–May 2019

  • Low streamflows most likely across Australia for March to May 2019.
  • Low flows observed at 68% of locations across Australia in February. Near-median and high flows recorded mostly along northern and northeastern Queensland and Tasmania.
  • The ENSO outlook remains at El Niño WATCH.

Streamflow forecast for March–May 2019

For March–May 2019, low streamflows are more likely at 87 locations spread across Australia. High flows are expected at 14 locations mostly in northern Queensland. Near-median flows are likely at 11 locations. For this time of year, 70% of locations have low to very low skill, while locations with high skill are mostly in the southeast regions.

Forecasts have not been issued for 103 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 2019 catchment conditions

Low streamflows were recorded at 146 locations across Australia. Near-median and high flows were recorded at 35 and 28 locations respectively–mostly in northern Queensland and Tasmania.

February rainfall was below average for Australia as a whole. Rainfall for the month was below to very much below average for much of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia, southern Queensland, far western and northeastern to central coast New South Wales. Above-average rainfall occurred in parts of northern Queensland, from the northwest to the central coast, and parts of Cape York Peninsula. Very heavy rainfall in northern Queensland reduced deficiencies in some areas of the west and adjacent Northern Territory, but for most of Australia deficiencies have generally increased.

Above-average actual evapotranspiration (AET) occurred in northern and northeastern Queensland, coinciding with areas of above-average rainfall in February. Above-average AET also occurred in northern parts of Northern Territory and eastern Western Australia. Below-average AET occurred elsewhere across Australia, particularly in large areas of southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales, central Northern Territory and southern Western Australia. These areas of below-average AET mostly coincide with areas of below-average modelled lower-layer soil moisture (10–100cm).

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

Climate influences

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is currently neutral, but sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean have continued to warm. The Bureau's ENSO Outlook remains at El Niño WATCH, meaning there is approximately a 50% chance of El Niño developing during the southern hemisphere autumn or winter, twice the normal likelihood.

Five of eight climate models surveyed by the Bureau indicate the central Pacific is likely to reach near borderline or weak El Niño levels during autumn, with four models remaining above threshold levels into winter. However, El Niño predictions made in early autumn tend to have lower accuracy than predictions made at other times of the year. This means that current forecasts of the ENSO state beyond May should be used with some caution.

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

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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