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Australia Is Set for a Warmer and Wetter-Than-Average Winter

Could this be the good news of 2020?
By Cordelia Williamson
April 25, 2020
By Cordelia Williamson
April 25, 2020

Last year saw warmer and drier weather conditions than normal, kicking off with a record-breaking summer, followed by a hotter-than-standard autumna warmer-than-usual winter and a sweltering spring. 2019 was also a year severe water restrictions, then the summer of soaring temperatures — and devastating bushfires only a few months ago. We're currently in drought, with particular concerns in regional NSW and subsequent water restrictions enforced in Sydney. To say Australia needs some rain is a gross understatement. And this winter the country may get it, with the Bureau of Meteorology reporting a wetter than average few months to come.

As it does every quarter, the Bureau of Meteorology has released its climate outlook for the May to July period, and the forecast favours one word we're all too familiar with: warm. But it also predicts rain, with this winter looking likely to break our dry spell. Finally, some good news in 2020.

For the first time in years, the Darling River has met the Murray, meaning some encouraging signs for drought-stricken areas in Australia's southeast. And, recently, we've seen above average soil moisture conditions, which are a good primer for runoff and catchment when further rain comes. That said, it will take a lot of heavy rain fall to replenish many of the catchment stores to how they were a few years ago, which is unlikely to be achieved in one (albeit wet) season.

The predicted heavier rainfall is due to warmer than average eastern Indian Ocean — which is currently the main influence on Australia's climate — increasing the moisture that feeds into weather systems as they move across the country. Overall, there's mostly a 60–75-percent chance for more rain in Australia over the next few months, with a greater than 75-percent chance for central Australia and WA. But, for much of northern Australia and the east coast, including Tasmania, the likelihood of a wetter or drier period from May through July is roughly equal at this stage.

There's also a very good chance that you'll experience winter temperatures that are warmer than average. Of course, the period in BOM's new outlook does cover winter, so weather across the country won't be balmy — but it's likely to be hotter than the median. Nights are expected to be toastier than average, with a more than 80-percent chance for most regions and a slightly lower one (70–89-percent) for southwest and southeast Australia. In Sydney, that means the mercury will be above a 11.6- degree minimum in May, higher than 9.3 in June and 8.1 in July, while Melbourne can expect temps above 8.7, 6.9 and 6 in the same months. In Brisbane, the standard minimums range between 9.5–13.3 and in Perth it spans 7.9–10.5.

Above average daytime temperatures are expected along the east coast and extending to northeast Tasmania, as well as across northern parts of Australia, too. Elsewhere, average daytime temperatures are just as likely to be warmer or cooler than average.

While rising temperatures are becoming a familiar story, the prospect of rain is something we haven't heard in a while. So, let's hope the weatherman is right.

Published on April 25, 2020 by Cordelia Williamson
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