Recent rain welcome (dated 01/02/05)
Recent storm activity and some low-pressure systems have brought some welcome rain for mainly northern and coastal regions. The higher rainfall totals recorded have mainly been in northern Queensland, which is expected at this time of year given that it is the 'wet season'. While some rain has fallen inland, it has been rather patchy but rainfall received will be useful in promoting pasture growth and to improve current sorghum crop outlook.
Recent rainfall maps can be found at www.bom.gov.au/climate It is worth noting though that despite some of the big totals recorded, for much of southern Queensland and parts of the peninsular and gulf there is still have some way to go before above average rainfall for January (let alone for January to March) has been recorded.
So for those looking for some more rain the next passage of the MJO due around mid-February will hopefully trigger it. The last passage of the MJO was in early January. The MJO is simply a band of low air pressure originating off the east coast of central Africa travelling eastward across the Indian Ocean and northern Australia roughly every 30 to 60 days. Research has shown the MJO to be a useful indicator of the timing of potential rainfall events across much of Queensland.
Monthly values of the SOI have continued to fluctuate and as of the end of January was plus 1.1. Considering the SOI was minus 10.0 at the end of December this has been somewhat of a rise. It is also the first time since May of last year that monthly values of the SOI have reached positive values (if only just). It will be interesting to see if these positive values can be maintained. As we have stated regularly, for there to be an overall widespread improvement in conditions right across the state, it would help if the SOI went into positive values for a couple of months at least.
In the mean time, based on the SOI value at the end of January, chances for average to above average rain over the next three months (February to April) across most of Queensland are generally between 30 to 50%. The main exception is for a belt running from the north west into the central west of the state where the probability of getting average to above-average rainfall for this time of year is slightly higher (50 to 60%).
The latest rainfall probability maps for Queensland, Australia and the world are at www.dpi.qld.gov.au/climate or www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au