Expert says rain relief unlikely until next year
IT WILL be months until our region has any prolonged rain and those chances are average at best.
That’s according to Sky News Weather chief meteorologist Tom Saunders after the release of the long-range severe weather outlook.
Each year Sky News Weather compiles a severe weather season outlook covering October to April.
Mr Saunders said the Gladstone region should not expect significant rainfall until at least next year.
“For most of Queensland, including Gladstone, there’s a 30 per cent risk of above average median rainfall through the wet season through to October to April,” he said.
“That chance is even less for the first half of the wet season and perhaps around January/February the chance of receiving above average rain should return closer to about 50 per cent.
“We expect very little if any drought relief over the next few months — our best chance is over the second half of the severe weather season from about January.
“By then the positive Indian Ocean Dipole would have broken down and the monsoon becomes the main driving force behind our weather patterns.
“Having said that, we are only talking about drought relief.
“Drought-breaking rain is quite unlikely. We’ve had so many years of below average rain it’s going to take more than a few months of average rain to break the drought.”
The Indian Ocean Dipole is “like the Indian Ocean version of El Nino that brings drier weather to northern, central and eastern parts of the country”, Mr Saunders said.
“For the last few months that’s been the cause of the drier weather.”
Mr Saunders said the chance of rain over the severe weather season would be slim at first.
“We expect most of the precipitation over the next seven months to come from thunderstorms which is nothing unusual for Queensland but generally we expect the rain to be below average,” he said.
“We are expecting a late start to the wet season and during the middle of the wet season around January/February/March there’s a chance the monsoon trough could reach as far south as the Capricornia and that’s probably the best chance of widespread persistent rain.
“In the short term over the next few months we’ll have to rely more on just onshore winds and light showers or thunderstorms that develop over the inland and move towards the coast.”
Mr Saunders said a lack of rain over the coming months would increase bushfire risk.
“There’s been an early start to the fire season and that risk will remain high until we see widespread rain and that really is unlikely until January,” he said.
“So the next few months there’s definitely the potential for major bushfires.”