Seasonal Streamflow Forecasts

Date: January–March 2016

  • Low streamflows more likely for January-March
  • Low flows observed at more than 75% of locations in December
  • El Niño may have peaked in recent weeks. Indian Ocean generally warm and may stimulate rain.

Streamflow forecast for January-March

For January to March 2016, low streamflows are more likely to occur at 78 locations across Australia. Near-median flows are more likely at 16 locations and high flows at seven. There is generally moderate to high forecast skill in southern Australia and low to very low skill in northern Australia.

Due to very low model skill or missing observation, forecasts have not been issued at 39 locations. We suggest using the historical 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.

New 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 catchment conditions

Low December flows were recorded at 107 out of 140 locations, predominantly in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, southwest Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. Near-median flows were recorded at 15 locations scattered across the continent, while high flows were recorded at 17 locations, mainly in Northern parts of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. December streamflow observations were not available at Ngangaguringuring on Helena River, Western Australia.

Overall, December rainfall was 60% above the long-term average across Australia. Rainfall in the Northern Territory was 197% above average. In contrast, rainfall was 28% below average across the Murray–Darling Basin. Elsewhere, rainfall was above average for Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia, and below average for Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales.

Actual evaporation was below or very much below average in large parts of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania, due to limited water availability. Across northern Australia, rainfall often exceeded actual evaporation, meaning some soils have become wetter.

Modelled lower-layer soil moisture (10–100cm) is above average across areas in Northern Territory, Queensland Gulf country and Western Australia. It is still very much below average in parts of South Australia, Queensland, southern and western Victoria, Tasmania and southwest Western Australia.

For more details, read our Monthly Climate Summary.

Climate influences

Indicators suggest the strong El Niño has peaked in recent weeks. El Niño's influence on Australian rainfall is variable at this time of year, with both wetter and drier summers observed in the past depending on how quickly the event breaks down. Models suggest that the current El Niño will show a decline from early 2016.

Indian Ocean temperatures were warmer than average through 2015 and remain so now, providing an extra moisture source for rain systems impacting Australia.

El Niño is often associated with below-average rainfall across eastern Australia in winter and spring, and also warmer-than-normal daytime temperatures over the southern half of the country. Our understanding ENSO video provides more information on how El Niño impacts our climate and weather.

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.

New streamflow forecasting service

The Bureau now also delivers 7-day streamflow forecasts for more than 100 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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