Seasonal Climate Outlook Message for February to May 2001

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SOI message 7th February 2001. The average SOI over the previous 30 days is now +10.2 (on 7/02/01). Based on the SOI, the probabilities of receiving median February-March-April rainfall period are between 50-70% for most of Queensland. However in the drought affected southern regions there is still only approximately a 50/50 chance of getting median rainfall.

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Review of Climate Forecasts and Information

Based on the latest values and trends of the SOI, the probabilities of receiving above-median rainfall over the total February-April period are little different from the 'normal' for this time of year in most of the eastern States of Australia. Exceptions are most coastal districts of Queensland, western Cape York Peninsula, parts of far central-western Qld and the southern Maranoa, much of coastal NSW, south- western corner of NSW and far eastern Tasmania where probabilities are 60-70%. Note that a 70% probability of receiving the long- term median for a location also means there is a 30% probability of not receiving the median for that location. These probability values are simply statements of fact referring to the history of rainfall events for particular locations over the past 100 years.

The outlook for winter is dependent on whether or not an El Niño develops.

The present pattern of ocean temperatures in key regions of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean resemble a La Niña pattern.

Temperatures of waters off the northern Australian coast are below average. However to the north of Australia in waters surrounding Indonesia, SSTs are much warmer than average.

Some general circulation models are suggesting that there is a potential for warming in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean over the next 6-9 months. We will watch the situation closely to determine any potential for El Niño development, or otherwise, in 2001. Close monitoring of sea-surface temperature patterns over the next six months is suggested.

The probabilities of obtaining median pasture growth or better during the December-January-February period are 'above- average' over most of Qld. However there are regions in the southeast where the probabilities are only 10% to 30% due to poor soil moisture conditions.

The next passage of the 30 to 50-Day Oscillation over Qld is expected during the last week of February/first week of March.

More detailed information for your location can be obtained from the Australian Rainman software package. Also additional information is available on our internet site 'The Long Paddock', or by phoning Col Paull (07 3896 9587), Dr Allyson Williams or Dr Roger Stone (climatologists) on 07 4688 1407, 07 4688 1293 or Roger's Mobile 041 255 9408.

This message will be updated with the latest outlook at the beginning of March.

Last updated: 6 February 2001