Hot, dry autumn ahead
SUMMER may have felt longer this season as higher than average temperatures in November made for a hot start to the past three months.
But even with huge February rainfall totals in Central and North Queensland, the autumn months ahead are forecast to be dry and warmer than average.
Bureau of Meteorology manager of long-range forecasting Dr Andrew Watkins acknowledged the outlook was 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.
"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 - meaning double the normal chance of El Nino forming," he said.
December 2: 35.8
January 5: 31.5
February 13: 34
December 8: 26.6
January 28: 26.5
February 5: 26.2
*Recorded at Mackay Airport