Commentary on rainfall probabilities based on phases of the SOI
Seasonal climate outlook message for March 2015 to May 2015
Commentary on rainfall probabilities based on 'phases' of the SOI
The monthly value of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was -8.7 in January and -0.5 in February. According to the SOI Phase system, the SOI is in a ‘Rapidly Rising’ phase.
Based on previous years when the SOI has been in a ‘Rapidly Rising’ phase at the end of February, the probability of above-median rainfall for the next three-month period (March to May) is 40 to 60 per cent for most of Queensland, with higher probabilities in some northern areas.
Previous years with a ‘Rapidly Rising’ SOI phase at the end of February include 1910, 1914, 1924, 1925, 1928, 1933, 1944, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1955, 1961, 1965, 1968, 1971, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1984, 1985, 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2004. The rainfall probabilities stated above are based on the 1900 to 1998 period (that does not include 2000, 2002 and 2004).
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 and Innovation and at www.bom.gov.au
Last updated 18 March 2011