Wetter start to autumn for central Australia and northern Queensland

31 March 2016

The first month of autumn brought welcome ‘above average’ rainfall to large parts of northern and western Queensland, while central and south east regions of the state received mostly ‘average’ to ‘below average’ falls, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

Almost all of SA recorded ‘above average’ to ‘very much above average’ rain in March, with some isolated pockets measuring the highest on record. Rain extended north, with much of the NT and Kimberley recording ‘average’ to ‘above average’ rainfall over the month. Similarly, south east WA had a wetter than average month, although rainfall was ‘below-average’ across the Pilbara region.

The majority of NSW registered ‘average’ to ‘below average’ falls – particularly in the north east – while close to the SA border received ‘above average’ rain. Dry conditions persisted in Victoria and Tasmania, measuring only ‘average’ to ‘below average’ rain over most regions.

The latest ENSO update from BOM suggests that the El Niño continues to decline in the tropical Pacific. Below ocean surface temperatures have reportedly cooled considerably, and are at the lowest levels since January 2015. The BOM indicates that the El Niño pattern will continue to weaken during autumn and is likely to return to neutral levels by mid-2016. Deterioration of El Niño events has historically brought above-average rainfall to much of southern Australia, and below-average rainfall to northern Australia.

BOM reports that Australia’s climate is also being affected by very warm temperatures in the Indian Ocean, which may bring extra moisture for rain systems as they move across the country during autumn.

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