Seasonal Streamflow Forecasts

Date: January–March 2019

  • Mostly low to near-median streamflows likely across Australia for January to March 2019.
  • Low flows observed at half of locations in December across Australia. High and near-median flows recorded mostly along eastern coast and in Tasmania.
  • The ENSO outlook remains at El Niño ALERT.

Streamflow forecast for January–March 2019

For January–March 2019, low streamflows are more likely at 73 locations, spread across Australia. Near-median and high flows are likely at 52 and 32 locations respectively, mainly in eastern coastal regions and Tasmania. For this time of year, more than 52% 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 58 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 2018 catchment conditions

Low streamflows were recorded at 106 locations, spread across Australia. Near-median and high flows were recorded at 64 and 39 locations respectively–mostly in eastern coastal regions and Tasmania.

December rainfall was below average across Australia as a whole. Below-average rainfall occurred across most of Queensland away from the east coast, nearly all of the Northern Territory, for northern New South Wales, most of northern Western Australia, and for a large part of South Australia. Above-average rainfall occurred across the east coast of Queensland from Cape York to around Rockhampton, along the east coast of New South Wales, most of Victoria, parts of southeastern and northwestern South Australia, large areas in southern Western Australia and northern Tasmania.

Above-average actual evapotranspiration (AET) occurred in Victoria, Tasmania, southern and north-western regions of south Australia, parts of New South Wales and inland Western Australia, southern Northern Territory and parts of nothern Queensland. These areas of above-average AET mostly coincide with areas of above-average modelled lower-layer soil moisture (10–100cm). Below-average AET occurred in the northern New South Wales, large areas of southern and western Queensland and central northern Territory, and most of northern Western Austrlia.

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

Climate influences

Tropical Pacific Ocean surface waters have returned to ENSO-neutral temperatures after exceeding El Niño levels in November and early December. The Bureau's ENSO Outlook remains at El Niño ALERT.

While waters at and beneath the surface of the tropical Pacific have been warmer than average since mid-2018, atmospheric indicators of ENSO such as cloudiness, trade winds and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) have not responded and have mostly remained neutral. For an El Niño to become established, the atmosphere needs to reinforce and respond to the warmer waters at the ocean's surface. This reinforcement is what allows the widespread global effects on weather and climate to occur.

The recent cooling of tropical Pacific waters may partly reflect the movement of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), which has recently encouraged stronger trade winds over the tropical Pacific. However, the MJO is moving east, weakening the trade winds once again, which may allow the ocean surface to warm again.

Most models indicate sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the tropical Pacific are likely to remain near El Niño levels at least until early autumn 2019. Models typically have less skill when forecasting through autumn compared with other seasons. If SSTs did maintain their current anomalous warmth through summer, it increases the chance of El Niño emerging in 2019.

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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