Warmer and drier winter conditions for much of Australia

Not a drop of blue on the winter rainfall map.

Not a drop of blue on the winter rainfall map. Image: BOM

The entire nation can expect a warmer and drier winter in coming months, with every shade of brown painting the weather bureau’s rainfall map.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued its long-range forecast late Thursday, predicting unusual conditions for the months ahead.

From June to August, large areas of Australia have a high chance of below-average rainfall.

There is a high chance of warmer than usual daytime temperatures almost everywhere.

“Warmer nights are also likely for many areas,” the weather bureau predicted.

Southern areas of Australia have at least twice the normal chance of winter rainfall falling in the bottom 20 per cent of records.

Some areas may have cooler nights, such as western NSW, parts of southern Queensland, eastern South Australia and southern areas of the Northern Territory.

The winter long-range forecast reflects several climate influences including the chance of El Niño forming in the Pacific Ocean, which often leads to drier conditions over large parts of Australia.

The Bureau remains on El Niño “watch”, which means around double the usual chance of an El Niño event.

But any change to the El Niño watch status would not change the long-range forecast which is already trending towards warm and dry, BOM’s Catherine Ganter said.

The forecast was released as the Queensland government declared the end of the drought in many regions for the first time in a decade.

Less than 10 per cent of the state is now drought-declared.

Drought status was revoked in nine regions: Barcaldine Regional Council, Boulia Shire Council, Longreach Regional Council, McKinlay Shire Council, Richmond Shire Council, Isaac Regional Council, Livingstone Shire Council, Whitsunday Regional Council and Winton Shire Council.

Weather bureau predicts dry, warmer winter

Source: BOM

Some ‘wintry’ conditions

Ms Ganter said with drier conditions forecast, the risk of frost during winter, which is most common for southern and central Australia, was heightened for inland southern areas.

“Even though average minimum and maximum temperatures are expected to be warmer than usual this winter, there will still be times of cold wintry conditions,” she said.

“This can increase the frost risk when there are still nights that are clear of cloud cover.”

In northern Australia, the dry season runs from May until September. Much of the region has very low rainfall during this time, as well as heightened bushfire risk.

Australia’s fire agencies have identified that while most of Australia has normal bushfire potential during winter, areas of above normal bushfire risk include a large area of the Northern Territory and pockets of NSW and north-western South Australia.

Fire potential depends on many factors including weather and climate, fuel abundance, recent fire history and firefighting resources available in the area.

Autumn review

The warm and dry winter comes after Australia had a dry autumn:

  • Australia’s autumn rainfall was about 10 per cent below the 1961-1990 average.
  • Each state and territory had below average rainfall overall, except Western Australia with about 6 per cent above average rainfall for autumn.
  • Australia had its second-driest May since national rainfall records began in 1900, with rainfall about 73 per cent below the 1961-1990 average.
  • While Australia’s autumn rainfall was very much below average in some areas, Tropical Cyclone Ilsa brought above average rainfall to parts of the north, west and into South Australia.
  • Australia had its coolest autumn since 2012, with an average temperature equal to the 1961-1990 average for autumn.
  • Water storages in eastern Australia remain about 90 per cent full.
    Most water storages in the north are close to full after the northern wet season.
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