Weekly update - 5 March 2020

Weekly Australian Climate,
Water and Agricultural Update

Key issues

  • During the week ending 4 March 2020 rainfall was primarily recorded across parts of northern and central Australia. These showers and thunderstorms were generated by ex-tropical cyclone Esther moving over northern Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Patchy rainfall between 10 and 50 millimetres was recorded across much of New South Wales, southern Queensland, the west of Western Australia and parts of South Australia.
  • In Australia’s cropping regions, rainfall totals of between 10 and 50 millimetres were recorded across much of Western Australia and scattered parts of New South Wales and Queensland during the week ending 4 March 2020.
  • February 2020 was the tenth-warmest February on record for Australia, with the national mean temperature being 0.97°C above average.
  • February 2020 rainfall was 11% below average for Australia. This, however, was not consistent across the country. Well above average to extremely high rainfall was recorded across much of eastern New South Wales, south-eastern Queensland and parts of Victoria, south-eastern South Australia, the west of Western Australia and north of the Northern Territory has benefited plant growth, soil moisture levels, stream flows and water storage levels.
  • Lower layer soil moisture for February 2020 was generally average to above average for this time of year across much of Australia. Lower layer soil moisture was below average across isolated parts of western New South Wales, south-western Queensland, north-eastern South Australia, north of the Northern Territory and scattered parts of Western Australia.
  • Despite rainfall in February, 2019-20 summer seasonal rainfall was slightly below average nationally due to very much below average to well below average rainfall at the start of the season.
  • Over the next eight days, rainfall totals of between 25 and 100 millimetres are forecast for parts of northern Australia and much of eastern Australia. Heavy rainfall and storms will be generated by a deep trough and low pressure systems over parts of the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Falls in excess of 100 millimetres are forecast for parts of northern and eastern Queensland over the next 8 days.
  • Across cropping regions, rainfall of between 25 and 100 millimetres is expected across much of Queensland and New South Wales, and parts of eastern Victoria during the next 8 days.
  • Water storage levels in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) decreased between 26 February 2020 and 4 March 2020 by 8 gigalitres (GL). Current volume of water held in storage is 7,902 GL which represents 31 per cent of total capacity.
  • Allocation prices in the Victorian Murray below the Barmah Choke decreased from $660 per ML on 27 February 2020 to $590 per ML on 5 March 2020.

Climate

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Rainfall this week

During the week ending 4 March 2020 rainfall was primarily recorded across parts of northern and central Australia. These showers and thunderstorms were generated by ex-tropical cyclone Esther moving over northern Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Patchy rainfall between 10 and 50 millimetres was recorded across much of New South Wales, southern Queensland, the west of Western Australia and parts of South Australia.

In Australia’s cropping regions, rainfall totals of between 10 and 50 millimetres were recorded across much of Western Australia and scattered parts of New South Wales and Queensland. Lighter falls of between 1 and 10 millimetres were recorded in cropping regions across much of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and remaining areas of Western Australia during the week ending 4 March 2020.

Rainfall for the week ending 4 March 2020

Map showing weekly rainfall totals in Australia. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description.

©Commonwealth of Australia 2020, Australian Bureau of Meteorology - Issued: 4/3/2020

Note: The rainfall analyses and associated maps utilise data contained in the Bureau of Meteorology climate database, the Australian Data Archive for Meteorology (ADAM). The analyses are initially produced automatically from real-time data with limited quality control. They are intended to provide a general overview of rainfall across Australia as quickly as possible after the observations are received. For further information go to Weekly Rainfall Update.

Monthly temperatures

February 2020 was the tenth-warmest February on record for Australia, with the national mean temperature being 0.97°C above average. Mean temperature was above average for New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. It was the sixth-warmest February on record for the Northern Territory.

Maximum temperatures for February were above average across parts northern and central Australia and minimum temperatures were above average across much of northern, eastern and Western Australia. In contrast, maximum temperatures for February across south-eastern Australia were below average.

Maximum temperature deciles for February 2020

Map showing maximum temperature anomalies for Australia. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description.

©Commonwealth of Australia 2020, Australian Bureau of Meteorology - Issued: 1/03/2020

Minimum temperature deciles for February 2020

Map showing minimum temperature anomalies for Australia. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description.

©Commonwealth of Australia 2020, Australian Bureau of Meteorology - Issued: 1/03/2020

Note: Maximum and minimum temperatures for August 2019 compared with temperature recorded for that period during the historical record (1900 to present). For further information go to Daily maximum temperature for Australia.

Monthly rainfall

February 2020 rainfall was 11% below average for Australia as a whole. However, well above average to extremely high rainfall was recorded across much of eastern New South Wales, south-eastern Queensland and parts of Victoria, south-eastern South Australia, the west of Western Australia and north of the Northern Territory has benefited plant growth, soil moisture levels, stream flows and water storage levels.

In contrast, February rainfall was severely deficient to well below average across isolated parts of north-western New South Wales, south-western Queensland, western South Australia, the north and south-east of Western Australia and the far north of the Northern Territory.

February 2020 rainfall totals were average or above for most cropping regions, with extremely high rainfall in parts of northern New South Wales, southern and central Queensland and northern Western Australia. This substantial February rainfall will benefit summer crop growth, encourage the planting of forage crops and continue to build soil moisture for the winter cropping season.

Rainfall percentiles for February 2020

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Note: Rainfall for February 2020 is compared with rainfall recorded for that period during the historical record (1900 to present). For further information, go to Australian Water Availability Project

Seasonal rainfall

Summer 2019–20 rainfall was below average nationally, with conditions varying markedly throughout the season. Following an unfavourable start to the season for summer cropping regions in New South Wales and Queensland, rainfall was largely average in January and well above average to extremely high in February. While rainfall in January and February helped eased dry conditions across eastern Australia, long-term deficiencies persist across parts of southern Australia.

The dominant climate drivers were neutral for much of summer, allowing minor drivers, such as the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) and the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), and incursions of moist tropical air, to have a stronger influence on Australia’s climate.

Summer 2019–20 rainfall was average across most cropping regions in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and southern Western Australia. Above average to extremely high rainfall was recorded in cropping regions across much of northern Western Australia and scattered parts of Queensland.

Rainfall percentiles for summer 2019–20 (1 December 2019 to 29 February 2020)

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Note: Rainfall for December 2019 to February 2020 is compared with rainfall recorded for that period during the historical record (1900 to present). For further information. For further information, go to Australian Water Availability Project

Monthly soil moisture

Upper layer soil moisture in February 2020 was average to above average for this time of year, across much of Australia. It was very much above average across parts of eastern New South Wales, south-eastern Queensland, eastern Victoria, the south-west of Western Australia and north-east of the Northern Territory. Soil moisture was below average across parts of north-western New South Wales, western South Australia, and northern and south-eastern Western Australia.

In cropping regions upper layer soil moisture was very much above average across much of Queensland, Western Australia and northern New South Wales. Average to above average soil moisture was recorded across the remainder of cropping regions in southern New South Wales, northern Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and eastern Western Australia.

Modelled upper layer soil moisture for February 2020

Source: Bureau of Meteorology (Australian Water Resources Assessment Landscape model)

Note: This map shows the levels of modelled upper layer soil moisture (0 to 10 centimetres) during January 2020. This map shows how modelled soil conditions during February 2020 compare with February conditions modelled over the reference period (1911 to 2015). Dark blue areas on the maps were much wetter in February 2020 than during the reference period. The dark red areas were much drier than during the reference period. The bulk of plant roots occur in the top 20 centimetres of the soil profile. Soil moisture in the upper layer of the soil profile is therefore useful indicator of the availability of water, particularly for germinating seed.

Lower layer soil moisture for February 2020 was generally average to above average for this time if year, across much of Australia. Lower layer soil moisture was below average across isolated parts of western New South Wales, south-western Queensland, north-eastern South Australia, north of the Northern Territory and scattered parts of Western Australia.

In cropping regions, lower layer soil moisture was above average to very much below average for much of northern New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and northern Western Australia.

Modelled lower layer soil moisture for February 2020

Source: Bureau of Meteorology (Australian Water Resources Assessment Landscape model)

Note: This map shows the levels of modelled lower layer soil moisture (10 to 100 centimetres) during January 2020. This map shows how modelled soil conditions during February 2020 compare with February conditions modelled over the reference period (1911 to 2015). Dark blue areas on the maps were much wetter in February 2020 than during the reference period. The dark red areas were much drier than during the reference period. The bulk of plant roots occur in the top 20 centimetres of the soil profile. The lower layer soil moisture is a larger, deeper store that is slower to respond to rainfall and tends to reflect accumulated rainfall events over longer time periods.

Rainfall forecast for the next 8 days

Over the next eight days, rainfall totals of between 25 and 100 millimetres are forecast for parts of northern Australia and much of eastern Australia. Heavy rainfall and storms will be generated by a deep trough and low pressure systems over parts of the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Falls in excess of 100 millimetres are forecast for parts of northern and eastern Queensland over the next 8 days.

While these falls will likely promote pasture growth and build soil moisture across northern and eastern Australia, there is risk of flash flooding and follow up rainfall will be required for sustained benefits.

In cropping regions, rainfall of between 25 and 100 millimetres is expected across much of Queensland and New South Wales, and parts of eastern Victoria during the next 8 days. Little to no rainfall is expected across remaining cropping regions in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

Total forecast rainfall (mm) for the period 5 to 12 March 2020

Map of the total forecast rainfall for the next 8 days. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description.

©Commonwealth of Australia 2020, Australian Bureau of Meteorology - Issued: 5/03/2020

Note: This rainfall forecast is produced from computer models. As the model outputs are not altered by weather forecasters, it is important to check local forecasts and warnings issued by the Bureau of Meteorology.

Commodities

Current indicators – 5 March 2020

Indicator Week ended Unit Latest price Price week prior Weekly change Price 12 months prior Year on year change Chart

Selected World Indicator Prices

Australian Dollar – AUD/USD Exchange Rate 04-Mar US$/A$ 0.65 0.66 -2%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 0.71 -8%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart
Wheat – US no. 2 hard red winter wheat, fob Gulf 03-Mar US$/t 223 228 -2%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 223 0% chart
Coarse Grains – US no. 2 yellow corn, fob Gulf 04-Mar US$/t 167 167 0% 169 -1%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart
Canola – Rapeseed, Canada, fob Vancouver 04-Mar US$/t 366 371 -1%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 369 <1%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart
Cotton – Cotlook 'A' Index 05-Mar USc/lb 72.1 77.1 -6%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 81.4 -11%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart
Sugar – Intercontinental Exchange, nearby futures, no.11 contract 05-Mar USc/lb 14.5 15.4 -6%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 12.7 14%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Wool – Eastern Market Indicator 20-Feb Ac/kg clean 1,581 1,568 <1%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 2,027 -22%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart
Wool – Western Market Indicator 13-Feb Ac/kg clean 1,667 1,709 -2%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 2,101 -21%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart

Selected domestic crop indicator prices

Milling Wheat – ASW1, track quote, Port Adelaide, SA 04-Feb A$/t 335 342 -2%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 349 -4%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart
Feed Wheat – General purpose, Sydney, NSW 03-Mar A$/t 428 436 -2%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 418 2%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Feed Barley – Sydney, NSW 03-Mar A$/t 356 366 -3%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 398 -11%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart
Grain Sorghum – Sydney, NSW 03-Mar A$/t 396 426 -7%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 432 -8%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart

Selected domestic livestock indicator prices

Beef – Eastern Young Cattle Indicator 20-Feb Ac/kg cwt 718 702 2%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 450 60%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Mutton – Mutton indicator (18–24 kg fat score 2–3), Vic 27-Feb Ac/kg cwt 724 681 6%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 415 74%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Lamb – Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator 20-Feb Ac/kg cwt 933 911 2%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 665 40%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Pig – Eastern Seaboard (60.1–75 kg), average of buyers & sellers 21-Feb Ac/kg cwt 411 425 -3%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 329 25%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Goat – Eastern States (12.1–16 kg) 02-Mar Ac/kg cwt 903 893 1%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 616 47%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Live cattle – Light steers ex Darwin to Indonesia 29-Feb Ac/kg lwt 370 360 3%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 340 9%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Live sheep – Live wether (Muchea WA saleyard) to Middle East 09-Dec $/head 105 140 -25%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 108 -3%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart

Global Dairy Trade (GDT) weighted average prices a

Dairy – Whole milk powder 03-Mar US$/t 2,952 2,966 <1%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 3,186 -7%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart
Dairy – Skim milk powder 03-Mar US$/t 2,747 2,840 -3%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 2,462 12%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Dairy – Cheddar cheese 03-Mar US$/t 4,285 4,526 -5%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 3,888 10%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Dairy – Anhydrous milk fat 03-Mar US$/t 4,302 4,379 -2%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 5,837 -26%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart

a Global Dairy Trade prices are updated twice monthly on the first and third Tuesday of each month.

Selected world indicator prices
Selected domestic crop indicator prices
Selected domestic livestock indicator prices
Global dairy trade weighted average prices
Movements in selected fruit and vegetable prices
Data attribution

Water

Water storages, water markets and water allocations - current week


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Last reviewed: 5 March 2020
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