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ARTICLES >> Environment Weather Watch

Weather Watch (February 2013)

Posted by Bestprac on Jan 30 2013

by Susan Carn (Hawker/Blinman Bestprac Group)

Australia spent its birthday weekend living up to its reputation; a sunburnt country with droughts and flooding rains. However, I don’t remember tornadoes being mentioned in the famous poem!

As I write, the east coasts of Queensland and NSW are being pummeled by heavy rain, cyclonic winds, high tides and even tornadoes, causing flooding and destruction. This weather system, although severe and unusually slow moving, began as “normal” monsoon season activity. But are tornadoes normal?

Some places are more tornado-prone than others, says Barry Hanstrum, NSW regional director of the Bureau of Meteorology. "The most common tornado spots are the south-western coast of Western Australia, south-eastern South Australia and over the border into nearby Victoria, the area around south-eastern Queensland, and the far north coast of New South Wales".

"When we look at tornado occurrence in Australia we find two peaks, including a summer peak around November, December and January, but a significant proportion happen in winter, especially in the southern coastal part of the country," Hanstrum said. So, not so unusual after all!

Meanwhile South Australia, although very dry, is enjoying some welcome respite from the heat. Most of January was extremely hot. For us in Quorn it was relentless with most days in the 40’s, and even two days where it hit 50! The heatwave coincided with the late onset of the northern Australian monsoon, preventing moisture and cloud of tropical origin from moderating temperatures inland. Most of Australia was affected.

The Bureau of Meteorology have written a special report on this widespread record breaking heatwave: Click here to read the report.

As for it being dry here, I wouldn’t call it a drought yet but I haven’t had anything in the rain gauge for six weeks. February doesn’t look very promising either, according to the BOM experimental POAMA model (see below).
Rainfall Anomaly- mm/day
I think Quorn is just getting back to a “normal” dry summer, after some wet ones. The previous two summers were influenced by La Nina. This year ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) is neutral.

Several seasonal forecast models were released this week. The POAMA and APEC models see most of Australia being around average for March and April, for both rainfall and temperature.

However, the JAMSTEC model from Japan predicts “eastern-central Australia will be in a warmer and drier than normal condition in the following seasons”.

All three models predict parts of WA and the coastal fringe of SE Australia to be slightly wetter in March.

Weighing all the information up, it looks like March and April will have average rainfall, at best, for my part of the world. It would be wonderful to know what is going to happen in the longer term, but at the moment all we can do is look at what the signs in the oceans and atmosphere are pointing to.

The signs from the tropical Pacific show that sea surface temperature will return to a neutral state by winter. This means neither an El Nino nor a La Nina, and considering the recent extremes, neutral sounds nice!
 

Last changed: Jan 31 2013

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