Seasonal Streamflow Forecasts

Date: March–May 2020

  • Mostly high streamflows likely for March–May 2020.
  • Low flows observed at 40% of locations across Australia in February. High flows mostly observed in southeastern Australia.
  • Tropical Pacific Ocean remains ENSO neutral.

Streamflow forecast for March–May 2020

For March–May 2020, high streamflows are likely at 48 locations across Australia. Near-median flows are likely at 18 and low flows at 41 locations. For this time of year, 70% of locations have low to very low skill, while 30% of locations have high to moderate skill scattered across the country.

Forecasts have not been issued for 108 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 catchment conditions

Low streamflows were recorded at 81 locations, across Australia. High flows were recorded at 70 locations mostly in southeastern regions and near-median flows were recorded at 50 locations across the country. It is observed that low flows were recorded at 40% of locations in February, that has decreased from 73% of locations in January.

Rainfall for February was above average for much of the eastern mainland, including central to eastern New South Wales; central to southeastern Queensland, extending to parts of the Capricornia coast and eastern Warrego; western, southern, and eastern Victoria; and large areas of South Australia extending from south of Alice Springs in Central Australia, through central and southeastern South Australia.

Rainfall was also above average along the track of tropical cyclone Esther, in an area extending westward from the southern Gulf of Carpentaria coast through northeastern and central northern parts of the Northern Territory, into pockets of the central Kimberley in Western Australia, and was above average over much of the western half of Western Australia except for the northwestern Gascoyne and western Pilbara where rainfall was mostly near average.

Rainfall was below average across large areas of the western and coastal northern Kimberley, extending into parts of the coastal Top End in the Northern Territory; for a large area of southeastern Western Australia and adjacent western South Australia; an area spanning northwestern New South Wales, southwestern Queensland, and adjacent far northeastern South Australia; as well as for smaller pockets elsewhere including in around Northwest Cape in West Australia, and across areas of Queensland's northern tropics.

Below-average actual evapotranspiration (AET) occurred across some parts 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 Queensland, parts of Northern Territory, southern Victoria, parts of southeast South Austrlia, central Western Australia and parts of central New South Wales roughly coinciding with wetter soils.

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 Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is neutral and expected to remain at neutral levels through autumn and until at least mid-winter. The IOD typically has little impact on Australian climate during summer and early autumn.

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remain neutral, however warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the western tropical Pacific may be contributing to some changes in weather patterns over the region. The latest outlooks from the surveyed models suggest that an ENSO-neutral state is the most likely scenario until at least mid-winter 2020.

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.

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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