Bureau: warmer times for Australia… again

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The Bureau of Meteorology has just released its latest seasonal outlooks, and it is projecting a very high chance of a warmer than normal late Winter and early Spring over much of Australia:

The national outlook averaged over August to October 2012 shows the following:

  • warmer days are more likely over most of Australia, except the northern tropics
  • warmer nights are more likely over most of Australia, except for the far tropical north

This outlook is predominantly a result of warmer than normal waters in the Indian Ocean; emerging warmer than normal Pacific waters have had a lesser impact. (source)

The BoM is predicting 75-80% chance of this over much of the continent.

If you search the Seasonal Outlook archive for “cool” or “cooler” you get 14 results. If you search for “warm” or “warmer” you get over 100. The Bureau is clearly doing its bit to prop up the Cause, but I wonder how many of those projections were actually anywhere near right? Someone with the time should go through them and compare with the actual records (also available on the BoM website).

For example, in September 2011, the Bureau claimed that the October to December months would be, you guessed it, predominantly warmer, with Brisbane and Sydney looking at a 50-55% chance of exceeding the median maximum temperature. What actually happened?

And the same for December to February, where Warwick Hughes noted:

This summer has been cooler than average across vast areas of Australia. Which has been a surprise to the BoM.

The BoM 3 month summer temperature outlooks were issued in November – actual daytime temperature anomalies were cooler over vastly more area of Australia than the BoM predicted. The actual warmth along the Perth to Pilbara coast and Sth Aust & Vic turned out to be miniscule compared to the BoM predictions. Ditto for the Far North which turned out near average. The BoM scores some marks for their Eastern and Central Australian cool predict but all of their hot predictions turned out cooler and smaller.

Let’s see how they fare with this one… check back in October.


  1. “a warmer than normal late Winter and early Spring over much of Australia”

    About bloody time. I’m fed up with these cold winters and cool summers. This is Brisbane, for ****’s sake. I’m supposed to be sweating.

  2. With the faltering el nino we can still expect some fallout in the way of most probably warmer temperatures and lower chances of rainfall during the summer months for much of the east coast. With the BOM though it is a case of predicting the same thing (higher temps and lower rainfall) until the eventually jag it right. On the predictions and outcomes Warwick Hughes is the one I often see do the comparissons in recent times. Here is one of the more recent ones he completed http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=1463 The Current BOM report seems to put strength on the Indian Ocean controlling temperatures and rainfall rather than the Pacific Ocean????

  3. Luke Warm says:

    I had noticed this myself. But there can be real consequences for biased forecasting. Some recent winters in England are a case in point.

  4. AndyG55 says:

    Sweet !!! the last couple of summers have been CRAP !!!!

  5. AndyG55 says:

    “50-55% chance of exceeding the median maximum temperature.”

    I hope they realise how stupid that sounds.

  6. Colin Bishop says:

    I hope that they are right in earlier warmer days – I’m bloody freezing because I can’t afford the electricity to run a heater – and seeing as we are paying for the “global change” (carbon tax) bring it on anyway. Stuff this government.

  7. This may sound childish, but why isn’t a portion of their funding linked to forecasting accuracy? Maybe it is? I don’t know. It seems logical to me…. (there you go.. I just answered my own question.)

  8. Tassie is doing what Tassie does best at this time of the year….. wet (so the dams will be filled come summer) Cold windy and A typical. No global warming seen around here lately just ask the locals…… even the sheep are complaining!

  9. Kevin R. Lohse says:

    Having recently connected with a site plotting and forecasting jet streams, I’ve noticed that there is a strong jet stream blowing across south and central Australia. I presume that this is bringing cool moist air from the southern oceans and contributing to the prevalent cool conditions, but I don’t know whether the present flow is “normal”. Certainly, a jet stream more southerly than usual is giving the UK it’s wettest, coolest Summer for years. The Met is gambling on the present NH jet stream returning to it’s normal more northerly flow by the middle of August. Could the BoM be hoping for the same?

  10. Ian Middleton via Facebook says:

    First of all what does the BoM consider normal for water temperature around Australia. Like most temperatures around the planet they go up, they go down. What is the normal temperature for the coastal waters off NSW on , let’s say, 31st August 2012? They wouldn’t have a clue. The continuing drop in average temperature that has effected SE Australia over the last 4 years has started to advance northward. Colder than average days are now being felt in QLD and NT. No big deal, the same thing happened 30 years ago. The wheel has gone full cycle. So expect warmer temperatures to resume in 2 or 3 years time.

  11. Ian Middleton via Facebook says:

    Anything BoM comes out with should be taken with a grain of salt.

  12. Warwick Hughes runs a regular check on BOM’s seasonal forecasts on his blog. See for instance….
    “Another 3 months of spectacular failed BOM temperature and rainfall Outlook predictions”

    I had a go at BOM’s last few cyclone season forecasts:

  13. Its a self generating business where you control ALL the product info.

  14. Roll on, it was 2.5 degrees this morning in Perth and scheduled to be colder tomorrow morning, days have been 17-18. Not bad, but we could do with some of that night time warmth

  15. Streetcred says:

    BoM uses the same f*kd up forecasting software as does the UK Met Office … with the same result. I can better forecast 3-days ahead by just looking out of the window at the cloud formations.

  16. Charles Gerard Nelson via Facebook says:

    You would think that SHAME would prevent these idiots from making predictions…it seems like only yesterday they declared that DROUGHT was the new normal in Eastern Australia.
    Don’t they know when they’re beat?

  17. Thumbnail says:

    This poster published by the Queensland Government clears it up. I have ordered a hard copy and will put it on my office wall.

    Click to access australiasvariablerainfall.pdf

    I would just like to add that variable rainfall does not surprise many farmers. But somehow, climate change is a scary thing for some city dwellers and university students. Maybe they should get out to the bush more often and stick their nose in the real world.

  18. the Indian Ocean does actually have a much larger influence on air moisture than previously thought. Especially in central and southeastern Australia. Although it shows how little we understand that we are just figuring this out now.

  19. I’ve been following the BOM’s three month seasonal outlooks for 5 years now. While I haven’t kept records, the forecasts and the outcomes have almost never coincided. I would be surprised if they got 20% anywhere near right, and I’m not just being cynical.

    Because I work in the area of fire surveillance I pay particular attention to such things.

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