The monthly value of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) fell from -0.3 in January to -5.6 in February. According to the SOI Phase system, this places the SOI in a ‘Consistently Near-Zero’ phase.
Based on previous years when the SOI has been in a ‘Consistently Near-Zero’ phase at the end of February, the probability of above-median rainfall for the next three-month period (March to May) is 40 to 50 per cent for much of Queensland.
Previous years with a ‘Consistently Near-Zero’ SOI phase at the end of February include 1901, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1911, 1913, 1920, 1923, 1927, 1932, 1934, 1936, 1940, 1947, 1948, 1960, 1964, 1966, 1980, 1981, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1995 and 1996.
When using a climate outlook it should be remembered that the probability, or per cent chance, of something occurring is just that – a probability. For example, if there is a 70 per cent probability of above-median rainfall, then there is also a 30 per cent chance of below-median rainfall. It does not mean that rainfall will be 70 per cent more than the median.
As the SOI is less reliable as an indicator of rainfall for the autumn season, users are advised not to rely on a single climate outlook alone and should consider the range of climate risk assessment information that is available. In the first instance, users in Queensland may wish to consult the monthly climate statement produced by the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts.
Further seasonal climate outlook information is available at www.bom.gov.au