Commentary on rainfall probabilities based on phases of the SOI
Seasonal climate outlook message for February to April 2014
Commentary on rainfall probabilities based on 'phases' of the SOI
The monthly value of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) increased from -0.7 in December to +11.2 for January. According to the SOI Phase system, this places the SOI in a ‘Rapidly Rising’ phase.
Based on previous years when the SOI has been in a ‘Rapidly Rising’ phase at the end of January, the probability of above-median rainfall for the next three-month period (February to April) is 40 to 60 per cent for much of Queensland.
Previous years with a ‘Rapidly Rising’ SOI phase at the end of January include 1901, 1902, 1920, 1930, 1931, 1935, 1937, 1940, 1953, 1954, 1963, 1967, 1968, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1996, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2013. The rainfall probabilities stated above are based on the 1900 to 1998 period and do not include 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2013.
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