Long Paddock

Commentary on rainfall probabilities based on phases of the SOI

Previous commentary

Seasonal climate outlook message for April to June 2014

Commentary on rainfall probabilities based on 'phases' of the SOI

The monthly value of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) fell from -1.7 in February to -12.0 in March. According to the SOI Phase system, the SOI remains in a ‘Rapidly Falling’ phase.

Based on previous years when the SOI has been in a ‘Rapidly Falling’ phase at the end of March, the probability of above-median rainfall for the next three-month period (April to June) is 30 to 50 per cent for much of Queensland.

Previous years with a ‘Rapidly Falling’ SOI phase at the end of March include 1900, 1918, 1951, 1955, 1961, 1966, 1968, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1991, 1994, 1997, 2002, and 2009. The rainfall probabilities stated above are based on the 1900 to 1998 period and do not include 2002 and 2009.

When using a climate outlook it should be remembered that the probability, or per cent chance, of something occurring is just that – a probability. For example, if there is a 70 per cent probability of above-median rainfall, then there is also a 30 per cent chance of below-median rainfall. It does not mean that rainfall will be 70 per cent more than the median.

Users should note that the SOI is less reliable as an indicator of rainfall for the autumn season. Furthermore, while climate outlook schemes cannot provide outlooks with absolute certainty, users who follow a skilful scheme should benefit from doing so in the long-term. Thus, users should consider the historical track record of any scheme, and such information is becoming increasingly available.

Further seasonal climate outlook information for Queensland is available in the monthly climate statement produced by the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts and at www.bom.gov.au

Last updated 18 March 2011

Seasonal climate outlook