Outlook good for February rainfall

Last year was the warmest on record for NSW according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s annual Climate Statement, released last week.

Senior climatologist Felicity Gamble told the Country Leader that Australia-wide 2017 was the third-warmest year on record 0.95 degrees above average, despite the influence of a weak La Niña late in the year.

A number of record high temperatures were set on February 11 and 12 last year: Inverell 41.3 degrees Celsius, Tenterfield 39.9, Woolbrook 38, Glen Innes 36.5, Guyra 35.1, Tamworth Airport 45.9, Armidale 37.1 and Moree 47.3. Record highest annual mean temperatures were also set at Quirindi (26.4), Mungindi (30.5) and Moree (28.2).

NSW had its driest September since comparable records began in 1900, and the second-driest June to September period.

The combination of hot days and dry conditions made a tough season for broadacre farmers and graziers alike. But the outlook for the region for the next few months is looking good.

“Our first outlook for February to April sees a reasonable rainfall outlook with a couple of different influences, including a weak La Niña,” Ms Gamble said.

“It's not the same strength the La Niña of 2010-2012 and has started much later in the year than we normally see.”

The outlook for the three-month period is about 50 per cent - no strong swing to either a particularly wet or dry forecast.

We are seeing a little more of a swing to wet conditions for central and northern NSW - a 60 to 70 per cent chance of above normal rainfall.

Senior climatologist Felicity Gamble

“However for February we are seeing a slight shift to wet conditions for central and northern NSW - a 60 to 70 per cent chance of above normal rainfall - influenced by the La Niña and warming ocean temperatures to the north and northwest of Australia,” she said. The chance of more rain should bring slightly cooler daytime temperatures as well, although overnight temperatures are not likely to be affected and show little shift from normal.