50:50 rainfall outlook for January–March, but increased fire risk for parts of Victoria

While below average rainfall is likely in the east for the rest of December, most of Victoria has a neutral rainfall outlook for the first quarter of 2020. That means there is no strong push from our climate drivers towards above or below average rainfall for January—March overall.

It is likely that the above average temperatures we've had in 2019 will continue into 2020. January–March average maximum temperatures are likely to be higher than usual across the State with the greatest chances over the northeast.

Nights are very likely to be warmer than average in the northeast with chances decreasing to the south and west for January–March.

Two of the drivers of the recent warm and dry weather, the positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and the negative Southern Annular Mode (SAM), are likely to withdraw soon. The positive IOD is weakening and will likely end in January. Typically, a positive IOD means below average rainfall for much of central and southern Australia, and warmer than average temperatures for the southern two thirds of Australia.

It is unusual for the IOD to persist far into summer, as it normally breaks down when the monsoon moves into the southern hemisphere in late spring or early summer. The 2019 event has been exceptionally strong, and its decay hampered by a late movement of the monsoon into the southern hemisphere.

The negative SAM is likely to persist through to the end of December and then rapidly weaken. At this time of year, negative SAM tends to bring warmer and drier conditions to parts of eastern mainland Australia.

Due to the lack of rainfall, low streamflows are likely at most forecast sites in Victoria from December–February. However, parts of southern Victoria have recorded average rainfall so far in 2019 and some sites in southern Victoria are likely to have near average streamflow over summer.

The updated Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook, issued 16 December, shows East Gippsland and much of northern Victoria have above normal fire potential this season. Fire potential depends on many factors including weather and climate, fuel abundance and availability, recent fire history and firefighting resources available in an area. This year the very warm and dry conditions seen in 2019 are key contributors to the above normal fire potential heading into 2020.

See the complete Climate Outlooks

Recent Weather Updates

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    Grazing conditions in the Mallee and Wimmera are likely to start to improve following the recent rain. But farmers will be looking for follow-up falls soon.

  • Wet in the west | 14/02/2020  

    Most of Victoria has already surpassed its February rainfall average, with some Western parts receiving more than three times their normal monthly rainfall.

  • A cool start, but warm end, for a wet January 2020 | 7/02/2020  

    Overall, Victoria in January was wetter than average, largely due to record rainfall in parts to 9am on the 21 st and 23 rd . Daytime temperatures were warmer than average across the State.

  • The heat returns | 30/01/2020  

    After good rainfall and milder temperatures last week, the heat returns this week with a heatwave warning for parts of southern Australia including Victoria.

  • A return to normal rainfall | 24/01/2020  

    Welcome rainfall in the past week raised month-to-date totals above January averages in parts of northern, central and eastern Victoria.