Hoping for a rainfall reset in 2020

The numbers are in, and 2019 is officially Australia's warmest and driest year on record. The Bureau of Meteorology's annual climate summary for 2019 was released today and provides an authoritative account of the main features of the nation's weather last year.

For Victoria, 2019 was the fifth warmest year on record overall (averaging the maximum and minimum temperatures) and the fourth warmest year on record for maximum temperatures.

Rainfall for 2019 in Victoria was mostly below average with large areas reporting annual totals in the lowest 10% of their historical records. The exceptions were parts of the south that did receive near average rainfall for the year.

Looking ahead, 2019's strong positive Indian Ocean Dipole has collapsed, removing its drying influence from the rainfall outlook. The El Niño–Southern Oscillation remains neutral, so is not providing a strong shift in rainfall and temperature patterns. With our main climate drivers likely to have little impact in the coming months, the rainfall outlook for February to April is neutral, or 50:50, for virtually all of Victoria. That means there are roughly equal chances of a wetter or drier than average three-months.

But a 50:50 outlook doesn’t mean the long-range forecasters at the Bureau of Meteorology are just taking a guess or that there is no indication of what's happening with our weather and climate. A neutral rainfall outlook means there is a 50% chance of seeing above-average rainfall. It doesn’t mean that the most likely rainfall will be spot-on average. A neutral season will typically bring quite variable rainfall, with periods of above- or below- average rainfall. And areas of above or below average rainfall tend not to be as widespread as during times when there is a strong signal from the oceans and atmosphere.

It also means there is less chance of extremely wet or extremely dry conditions over large areas; a good sign if drought or flood is a concern.

Average rainfall for February to April ranges from about 50 mm in the northwest to more than 200 mm in parts of the east.

The temperature outlook for February to April is warmer than average. Both maximum and minimum temperatures are likely to be higher than usual. The highest chances—greater than 80%—are over parts of the east and reduce slightly to the west.

Check out the Annual Climate Summaries for more details about 2019 and the Climate Outlooks for guidance on the start of 2020.

Recent Weather Updates

  • 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.