Seasonal Climate Outlook Message for January to April 2003

The bottom line

SOI Continues to Fluctuate (Dated 29/01/03)

The SOI continues to be remarkably variable. As of the 29th January the 30day average of the SOI had risen to minus 1.1 from a low of minus 13.4 at the start of the month.

Despite this shift, the chance of above median rainfall remains low (20-40%) across south east Queensland for January to March. Quite low rainfall probabilities (10-30%) can be found across all of Western Australia. Other areas around Australia with similar low rainfall probabilities include the coastal strip of NSW and northern South Australia.

While there has been a slight improvement in rainfall probabilities (indicating the potential for relief rain) for parts of west and north Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, central NSW, south east South Australia and the central Northern Territory an El Nino sea temperature pattern still persists in the central Pacific.

Therefore there is only a low chance of getting the well above average rainfall totals required to break the ongoing Australian wide drought pattern.

For those interested the latest Queensland, Australian and global rainfall probability maps can be found at or at

DPI staff from Gatton Research Station recently developed a management checklist for horticultural producers to use when developing cropping strategies under current drought conditions. While it is mainly aimed at irrigated horticultural producers it has many points that could be applied to most agricultural businesses.

Some of the points covered include -

Can you meet your debt commitments if your income is significantly reduced over the next 6-12 months? Do you know what financial assistance is available for your circumstances and your type of enterprise? Do you have another potential source of income? Are you aware of other drought related issues (e.g. increased activity of insect pests such as thrips; feral animals using irrigated crops as a food source; increased incidence of virus diseases; etc)?

The full checklist is available through the Call Centre on 13 25 23, on the internet at or at most DPI centres.

The seasonal outlook and El Nino update for February to April will be released on Monday next week. For more specific climate information refer to Australian Rainman, the latest "Climate Note" at or contact me through the DPI Call Centre on 13 25 23.

Last updated: 28 January 2003