Importance of Natural Resources

Climate and Water Outlook for March to May 2020, issued 27 February 2020


Welcome to the Climate and Water Outlook for
autumn 2020. After an extremely dry start to summer, rain
in mid-January and early February brought some relief. Autumn is likely to be warmer and possibly
drier than average in the north, while some areas my be wetter in the south. But first, let’s look at recent conditions. Summer across southern Australia saw several
individual hot days, in contrast northern Australia had persistent heat even after the
monsoon arrived. Temperatures in the Northern Territory and
Queensland were 5 to 7 degrees above average in early February, and the Northern Territory
had its hottest February night on record—27.3 deg degrees on the 15th Turning to rainfall—the Australian monsoon,
began about three weeks late – one of the later monsoon onsets since records began in
1957. Northern Australia has now had low rainfall
for the last two wet seasons. Four Tropical cyclones have brought some rainfall
to Australia — Damien and Esther in February and Blake and Claudia in January. Heavy rainfall and severe storms also affected
eastern parts of the country during February, but the heaviest falls were east of the Divide. Rains have increased soil moisture in many
areas. While soils in south-west Western Australia generally remain dry, significant increases
occurred down the east coast. Any further rainfall in these areas now has
a better chance of resulting in runoff and contributing to water storages. Sydney’s storages increased to 81% over the
past month. But water storages in the northern Murray—Darlin
Basin have only risen slightly. In the north, the late monsoon onset has seen
the Darwin River Dam at 54%, the lowest level since December 2009. But despite the rains around 30% of Australia,
and 90% of New South Wales, still have serious or severe rainfall deficiencies. So, what will influence our climate in the
coming months? Our major climate drivers are currently neutral,
and look to stay that way over autumn. However, warm ocean temperatures around northern
Australia, which would typically help increase rain, are being offset by warm temperatures
in the tropical Pacific that would normally draw moisture away from Australia. As a result, autumn rainfall could be below
average over some parts of the tropical north, but likely to be above average for areas of
Western and South Australia Low streamflows are likely for most forecast
locations. However, recent rains and wetter catchments mean around 30% of locations are
expected to have median to high flows, particularly in northern and eastern regions. With warm oceans around northern Australia,
autumn temperatures are very likely to remain warmer than average in most states. Only southern
parts of Western Australia and the south east, may be closer to average. So in summary, autumn is likely to see A chance of drier conditions in the tropical
north, but wetter in parts of the south, Warmer than average days and nights And some streamflows are likely to return
to near normal levels Thanks for joining us, you can find out more
about the outlooks on our website. We’ll see you next time.


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