BOM's crystal ball goes cloudy

07 Sep, 2014 04:00 AM
September has a higher chance of below average rain than October

THE Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is still expecting spring to be drier than average in many cropping regions, but says its confidence is relatively low due to a complex set of climate drivers.

Manager of climate prediction services with the BOM, Dr Andrew Watkins, said while many factors were consistent with drier than average conditions, there had not been a coupling up of these weather influencing patterns.

“It really is very tricky, we have ocean temperatures approaching El Nino thresholds, which is obviously consistent with drier conditions, but the atmospheric conditions are not following suit,” Dr Watkins said.

He said the negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) event at the moment was normally consistent with wetter than average conditions, however, the location of warmer ocean temperatures is atypical of a true IOD event.

“It’s a fair bit cooler in terms of temperatures, more consistent with what you’d see when an El Nino is in place in the Pacific.

“Since the El Nino threatened earlier in the year it has been really difficult to predict, we would have expected the conditions to couple up and become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but that hasn’t happened.”

For spring, the BOM is predicting drier than average conditions for much of the nation’s cropping belt, with the most confidence for NSW to be dry.

Critically for farmers looking for rain immediately, September has a higher chance of below average rain than October.

An exception to the rule will be the Western Australian wheatbelt, which has a slightly higher than average chance of exceeding average rainfall in October.

Meanwhile, BOM data backed up what farmers in southeastern Australia felt – August this year was one of the driest on record.

“We’re saying it is the driest August since 1940, with the record dry being way back in 1914,” Dr Watkins said.

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


David Fleming
7/09/2014 7:33:15 AM

I wish I got as much funding as BOM to get something consistently less than half right.
John from Tamworth
7/09/2014 8:04:16 AM

It should be remembered that these are the same people who are confidently predicting,based on their computer models, what the weather and temperature will be in 50 years.As we all remember this time last year they were predicting a 75% chance of a wetter than average spring and early summer.Instead we got the worst drought ever.
sophia lemaver
7/09/2014 5:28:12 PM

I prefer to use the reference that provides better annual prediction. It's no coincidence that travel, gardening, energy companies and even wall street use it for long time.
9/09/2014 12:38:09 PM

Because of their complete failures since they changed the way they forecast, does anyone listen to them anymore? I certainly don't! Well said John
Albert Einstein
10/09/2014 8:39:07 AM

You could not rely on the BOM to tell you the correct time in a clock factory. They have been caught out ( as pointed out by Jennifer Marohasy ) telling porkies about the temperature record to suit your own political ideology , and their credibility will now always be suspect. They can not be relied on to give scientific advice about the weather in the future if they can't give truthful records of the weather in the past.
Bill Pounder
11/09/2014 11:26:11 AM

Well, try again next year, as cold water extends into the central Pacific Ocean and the super El Nino goes walkies. /sfc_daily.php?plot=ssa&inv=0&t=c ur
22/09/2014 10:50:50 AM

Curious. The BoM, who have no discernable ideology (whatever their private views) are abused for being political. In the same breath, Jennifer Marohasy is cited as a reliable source. Dr Marohasy, a commentator with no climate science credentials, but with a history of association with strongly political groups (eg IPA), made a number of serious, even libellous, accusations against the BoM, published in The Australian. However, she has refused to submit her claims for scientific review, preferring to appear on denialist blogs. Dr Marohasy is not a credible witness.


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Why do they forget the small producers they are the backbone of the industry. What. Did this
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Good these guys will be able to help the farmers they are treating like second class peasants.
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Lets' hope Troy Grant doesn't Delforce's website or it will be yet another NSW