The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed Australia has sweltered through its hottest summer on record and we are being warned more hot and dry conditions are on the way in Autumn.
The Bureau will not be officially releasing its summary for the 2018-2019 Summer until Friday but preliminary figures indicate that it will be Australia’s warmest summer on record, and will also be among the top ten driest since national rainfall figures started in 1910.
It’s also expected the current summer period will be among the top five warmest on record for each state and territory.
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BOM’s updated 2019 Autumn Outlook, released on Thursday, shows the summer-like conditions will continue through March-May.
Queensland, NSW, Victoria, northern and eastern Tasmania, the southern two-thirds of the NT and eastern SA are expected to be drier than usual during the Autumn months.
However, inland western WA is slightly more likely to be wetter than average.
The chance of warmer than average days and night across the next three months are also greater than 80 per cent for most for the country.
Autumn 2019 is likely to be drier than average for much of northern and eastern Australia, with an average to later-than-average autumn break in the south. Temperatures are very likely to be above average across the country.
Full #BOMOutlook video at https://t.co/TjLXj1uNFs. pic.twitter.com/siw7mb3P93
— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) February 27, 2019
The Bureau’s manager of long-range forecasting, Dr Andrew Watkins, acknowledged the outlook is not the news many would be wanting to hear.
“After a record hot December and January it won’t come as a surprise that this summer will be our warmest on record, and apart from areas of northern Queensland, many locations fell short of their summer rainfall averages too,” Dr Watkins said.
“Unfortunately, the outlook isn’t giving a strong indication that we’ll see a return to average or above average rainfall in many areas over the autumn period. The only exception is for parts of inland Western Australia.
“Autumn is obviously a critical time of year for agriculture, particularly in the southern parts of the country. It’s important to remember that despite what the outlook is suggesting, individual heavy rainfall events are always possible, and people should stay up to date with the latest seven-day forecast and warnings for their area.”
The outlooks also show that warmer than average conditions are very likely to continue through autumn.
“If we have a look at what’s driving the outlook, we can see that Australia’s two main climate drivers in the El Niño–Southern Oscillation and the Indian Ocean Dipole are currently in a neutral phase, meaning there’s no strong influence from either. But things have been warming in the tropical Pacific Ocean over the past month, so we are currently at El Nino WATCH – meaning double the normal chance of an El Nino forming in autumn.
“We are also observing cooler than average waters off the coast of Western Australia, which may reduce the number of rain-bearing systems impacting the south of the country.
“We also know that 24 of the last 29 years have seen a drier than average start to autumn in south eastern Australia, due to a long term southwards shift of our weather patterns.”
Checkout the Bureau’s Autumn Climate and Water Outlook below.