Seasonal Climate Outlook Message for August to November 2001

The bottom line

SOI message 29th August 2001.

The 30-day average of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has maintained a low value and reached -9.1 on 29th August.

Based on a Consistently Near Zero SOI phase in June/July, there is a wide range of rainfall probabilities across Queensland for the August/October period, with the main areas of low rainfall probabilities being in NE Qld.

The Livingstone, Fitzroy, Duaringa and Emerald shires north to Cape York with parts of the Diamantina, Barcoo, Longreach, Perry, Monto and Eidsvold shires all have only a low 20-40% probability of getting or exceeding the long term median August to October rainfall.

For the rest of Queensland there is a 40-60% chance of getting above the long term median August to October rainfall.

Also an important point to remember is that August and September across most of Queensland are normally the two driest months of the year in terms of absolute rainfall.

The key point for readers who follow the movements of the Southern Oscillation is to keep track of any shifts in the monthly value of the SOI over the next couple of months. Any substantial fall at this time of year would reduce rainfall probabilities for many areas of the state for the coming summer.

The outlook will be updated next week using the August SOI phase which is as yet undetermined.

The full story

Review of Climate Forecasts and Information 1st September 2001. Next update 1st October 2001.

Climate pattern and SOI 'phase'. Based on the latest values and trends of the SOI, the probabilities of receiving at least the long-term median rainfall over the September-October-November period are mostly around 50% for most of eastern Australia, although there are exceptions.

However, in Queensland, parts of the Croydon, Mareeba, Etheridge, Dalrymple, Bowen, Belyando, Nebo, Peak Downs and Emerald shires have only a 30-40% chance of getting above the long term September-November totals.

Although the regions of southern Queensland that are drought affected have a 50% chance of getting at least median rain over the next 3 months, it needs to be noted that September is normally one of the driest months of the year. There are low probabilities of "drought breaking" rainfall events. For example for the September/November period there is only a 20% chance of getting 210mm at Chinchilla.

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.

Sea-surface temperatures (SSTs). Sea surface temperatures in the key regions of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean are mainly close to average or slightly warmer than average. Most of the SST prediction models are predicting that ocean temperatures in key regions of the Pacific Ocean will continue to slowly warm which is of concern. However, there is still uncertainty about the severity of the warming. An El Niño is when the eastern Pacific is between 1 and 2oC warmer than average.

Pasture Growth forecasts. Most of Queensland has less than a 40% chance of exceeding median pasture growth during the August-October period. However southern Queensland around the Maranoa district does have probabilities as high as 90%.

30 to 50-Day Oscillation. The 30-50 day oscillation has been difficult to track in recent times. Although the signals are weak, we expect it to next influence Queensland rainfall around the end September/start of October. 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 phone Dave McRae 4688 1459, Dr Allyson Williams or Dr Roger Stone (climatologists) on 07 4688 1407, 07 4688 1293 or Roger's Mobile 041 255 9408. Information contained in this publication is provided as general advice only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought. The Queensland Centre for Climate Applications, has taken all reasonable steps to ensure the information in this publication is accurate at the time of publication. Readers should ensure that they make appropriate inquiries to determine whether new information is available on the particular subject matter. Contributions by Bureau of Meteorology are gratefully acknowledged.

Last updated: 28 August 2001