Weekly update - 9 January 2020

Weekly Australian Climate,
Water and Agricultural Update

Key issues

  • During the week ending 8 January 2019 widespread rainfall was recorded across tropical northern Australia, central Australia and isolated areas of eastern New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, and southern and central South Australia. These falls are likely to benefit plant growth and build soil moisture levels in affected areas.
  • December 2019 was an exceptionally warm month. It was the warmest December on record for Australia in terms of mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures.
  • December 2019 was the driest December on record for Australia. Rainfall totals for the month were generally in the lowest 5 to 10 per cent of the historical record (serious or severe rainfall deficiencies) for most summer cropping regions. Due to the lack of soil moisture in most summer cropping regions these significant rainfall deficiencies are likely to adversely affect summer crop yields and production.
  • 2019 was Australia's driest year on record. For the 12-month period ending December 2019, rainfall deficiencies increased in severity following a record-dry December.
  • Bushfires during late 2019 and early 2020 across south-eastern Australia have led to significant local and regional losses of livestock, horticultural crops and forests. At this stage it is difficult to establish the extent of the impact at the farm and national level due to the limited access to affected regions.
  • The rainfall outlook for January to March 2020 suggests that drier than average conditions are more likely for northern and central parts of Queensland, western and southern New South Wales, and eastern Victoria. In contrast, Western Australia, the far north and south of the Northern Territory, and the western half of South Australia are more likely to be wetter than average.
  • Over the next eight days, widespread rainfall is forecast for large areas of eastern, western and northern Australia.
  • Across Australia’s summer cropping regions, rainfall of between 5 and 15 millimetres is expected across parts of north-eastern New South Wales and Queensland.
  • Water storage levels in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) decreased between 18 December 2019 and 8 January 2020 by 606 gigalitres (GL). Current volume of water held in storage is 8,377 GL which represents 33 per cent of total capacity.
  • Allocation prices in the Victorian Murray Below the Barmah Choke increased from $810 per ML on 19 December 2019 to $855 per ML on 9 January 2020.

Climate

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Rainfall this week

During the week ending 8 January 2019 widespread rainfall was recorded across tropical northern Australia, central Australia and isolated areas of eastern New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, and southern and central South Australia. These falls are likely to benefit plant growth and build soil moisture levels in affected areas.

Across Australia’s summer cropping regions, falls of between 5 and 25 millimetres were restricted to parts of north-eastern New South Wales. Little to no rainfall was recorded across remaining summer cropping regions during the week ending 8 December 2019

Rainfall for the week ending 8 January 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: 8/1/2020

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

December 2019 was an exceptionally warm month. It was the warmest December in 110 years of record for Australia. It was also the warmest December on record for Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory. For Victoria it was the third-warmest December on record. Tasmania was the only State not to rank amongst the three warmest Decembers on record.

The national mean temperature was 3.21 °C above average, surpassing the previous December record set in 2018 by more than a full degree. Both the mean maximum and mean minimum temperatures for the month were the highest on record for December, with the national mean maximum being 4.15 °C above average. This was also the largest mean maximum temperature anomaly for any month of the year, surpassing the previous record set in October 2015 (+3.60 °C).

Maximum temperature deciles for December 2019

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: 3/01/2020

Minimum temperature deciles for December 2019

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: 3/01/2020

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

December 2019 was the driest December on record for Australia. Rainfall for the month was the second lowest on record since 1900 for Queensland and New South Wales, the 3rd lowest in Victoria, and 4th lowest in the Northern Territory.

Rainfall was severely deficient to below average across most of Australia. December rainfall was severely deficient to below average across most of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and most of the Northern Territory as well as large areas of south-eastern and western South Australia, eastern Western Australia, and eastern Tasmania. A large number of sites in New South Wales and Queensland, some in the Northern Territory and Victoria, and a few in Tasmania and South Australia had their lowest December total rainfall on record.

Rainfall for the month was above average across parts of north-western Western Australia and western Tasmania.

December 2019 rainfall totals were generally in the lowest 5 to 10 per cent of the historical record (serious or severe rainfall deficiencies) for most summer cropping regions. Due to the lack of soil moisture in most summer cropping regions these significant rainfall deficiencies are likely to adversely affect summer crop yields and production.

Rainfall percentiles for December 2019

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

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

Monthly soil moisture

Upper layer soil moisture in December 2019 was generally average to above average across much of Western Australia and parts of central Australia. It was below average to very much below average across most of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the Northern Territory, and southern South Australia and eastern Tasmania.

In summer cropping regions across northern New South Wales and Queensland, upper layer soil moisture was generally lowest on record to very much below average for this time of year.

Modelled upper layer soil moisture for December 2019

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 December 2019. This map shows how modelled soil conditions during December 2019 compare with December conditions modelled over the reference period (1911 to 2015). Dark blue areas on the maps were much wetter in December 2019 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 December 2019 was generally below average to very much below average for across parts of northern New South Wales, southern Victoria, parts of southern and north-western Queensland, parts of southern and northern Western Australia and scattered areas of the Northern Territory. It was average or above average across the remainder of the country.

In summer cropping regions, lower layer soil moisture was below average to very much below average for northern and western areas of New South Wales and generally lowest on record to very much below average in Queensland.

Modelled lower layer soil moisture for December 2019

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 December 2019. This map shows how modelled soil conditions during December 2019 compare with November conditions modelled over the reference period (1911 to 2015). Dark blue areas on the maps were much wetter in December 2019 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.

Bushfires

Following particularly hazardous fire weather in spring over the eastern half of Australia, the monthly accumulated Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) for December was the highest on record over most of the country.

Dangerous fire weather conditions in early November led to renewed fire activity in New South Wales and eastern Queensland, with fires continuing to burn throughout December. Further significant fires also broke out during December in South Australia, Gippsland and north-eastern Victoria, across the Alpine region, south-eastern New South Wales, and Tasmania. The end of year brought particularly challenging weather, in eastern Victoria and south-eastern New South Wales as fires flared again in these very dangerous conditions.

These bushfires have led to significant local and regional losses of livestock, horticultural crops and forests. At this stage it is difficult to establish the extent of the impact at the farm and national level due to the limited access to affected regions. Impacts may include loss of livestock, reduced milk production (heat stress, drying off, lack of feed), loss of fodder and pasture and capital and infrastructure losses (plant and equipment, fencing, machinery, irrigation infrastructure). These will be significant issues for farm businesses and, depending on scale, may have implications for regional production and processing capacity.

National Climate Outlook

The rainfall and temperature outlooks presented here show the likelihood, represented as a percentage, of experiencing wetter or drier (and warmer or cooler) than median climatic conditions for the given outlook periods. These climate outlooks are generated by ACCESS–S (Australian Community Climate Earth-System Simulator–Seasonal). ACCESS–S is the Bureau of Meteorology's dynamical (physics-based) weather and climate model used for monthly, seasonal and longer-lead climate outlooks.

For further information, go to About the climate outlooks

The El Niño-Southern Oscillation is currently neutral and expected to remain neutral until at least the end of autumn 2020. The positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which likely contributed to dry conditions across much of Australia during winter and spring 2019, has weakened to just below positive IOD thresholds. Likewise, a recent persistent negative phase of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) has also weakened and is currently neutral.

With these two major drying climate influences easing, the likelihood of drier conditions has weakened somewhat. However, residual drier conditions remain likely in the east. Abnormally warm sea surface temperatures in the western tropical Pacific Ocean and to the west of Australia may also be contributing to some changes in weather patterns over the continent, including the trend towards dry conditions in the east of the country.

The latest rainfall outlook released by the Bureau of Meteorology suggests that January is likely to be wetter than average across most of Western Australia, the far north and south of the Northern Territory, and the western half of South Australia. Northern and central parts of Queensland, western and southern New South Wales, and northeast Victoria are likely to be drier average. Across the remainder of Australia, there is no strong shift towards a wetter or drier than average month (Bureau of Meteorology ‘National Climate Outlook’, 2 January 2020).

Chance of exceeding the median rainfall January 2020

Map showing chance of exceeding median rainfall during the next month in Australia. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s climate outlooks are given as a probability (or chance) of exceeding a specified rainfall or temperature threshold. In the case of the Bureau’s rainfall outlook, it is represented as the chance of rainfall being above median, expressed as a percentage. While this probabilistic forecast indicates that there is no strong shift towards a wetter or drier than average three months for much of Australia, several months of above average rainfall would be needed to ease current long-term deficiencies.

The rainfall outlook for January to March 2020 suggests that wetter than average conditions are more likely across most of Western Australia, the far north and south of the Northern Territory, and the western half of South Australia. Northern and central parts of Queensland, western and southern New South Wales, and eastern Victoria are likely to be drier than average. Across the remainder of Australia, there is no strong shift towards a wetter or drier than average three months (Bureau of Meteorology ‘National Climate Outlook’, 12 January 2019).

Chance of exceeding the median rainfall January to March 2020

Map showing chance of exceeding median rainfall for the next three months in Australia. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description.

The temperature outlook for January to March 2020 indicates that daytime temperatures are more likely to be warmer than average for much of the country, with the exception of parts of Western Australia and Tasmania where the chances of warmer or cooler daytime temperatures are roughly equal. Night-time temperatures are also likely to be warmer than average for much of Australia (Bureau of Meteorology ‘National Climate Outlook’, 2 January 2020).

Chance of exceeding the median maximum temperature January to March 2020

Map showing chance of exceeding median maximum temperature for the next three months in Australia. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description.

Chance of exceeding the median minimum temperature January to March 2020

Map showing chance of exceeding median minimum temperature for the next three months in Australia. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description.

Rainfall deficiencies

The rainfall deficiencies presented below are sourced from the Bureau of Meteorology’s monthly ‘Drought Statement’. As short to longer-term deficiencies become evident the Bureau of Meteorology monitors these events through their lifecycle—from emergence through to their dissipation—with the time-period of analysis each month increasing from a fixed starting point to the easing of the deficiencies.

For further information, go to Drought

It was Australia's driest December and driest end of the year on record. For the last three months of the year rainfall was below to very much below average across most of Australia, including much of Queensland, especially in the southeast, much of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, eastern Tasmania, Western Australia away from the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions, and the Northern Territory.

Daytime temperatures have also been very warm adding to moisture stress, with December 2019 being Australia's warmest month since national records began in 1910.

2019 was Australia's driest year on record. For the 12-month period ending December 2019, rainfall deficiencies have increased in severity following a record-dry December. Around 68% of Australia recorded rainfall totals in decile 1 (lowest 10% on record) for the period, with around 24% of the country recording lowest on record rainfall for the period. Serious to severe rainfall deficiencies persist across much of New South Wales, parts of eastern and northern Victoria, south-eastern Queensland, most of South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory and eastern Tasmania.

Serious to severe rainfall deficiencies continue to persist at longer timescales. For the 21-months starting in April 2018, serious to severe rainfall deficiencies are evident across much of New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory, parts of eastern and northern Victoria, south-eastern and western Queensland, and parts of northern and southern Western Australia and eastern Tasmania (Bureau of Meteorology ‘Drought Statement’, 8 January 2019).

Rainfall deficiencies for the 12-month period 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019

 

©Commonwealth of Australia 2020, Australian Bureau of Meteorology - Issued: 07/01/2020

Rainfall deficiencies for the 21-month period 1 April 2018 to 31 December 2019

 

©Commonwealth of Australia 2020, Australian Bureau of Meteorology - Issued: 07/01/2020

Rainfall forecast for the next 8 days

Over the next eight days, rainfall totals of between 5 and 25 millimetres are forecast for large areas of eastern, western and northern Australia. Higher rainfall totals in excess of 25 millimetres are forecast for much of tropical northern Australia, central Western Australia and scattered areas of north-eastern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland.

Rainfall totals of between 5 and 25 millimetres are forecast for the active fire zones of southern New South Wales and eastern Victoria. It is very unlikely that these falls would be sufficient to extinguish the fires, particularly with the long-term rainfall deficiencies and lack of soil moisture.

In summer cropping regions, rainfall of between 5 and 15 millimetres is expected across parts of north-eastern New South Wales and Queensland, with lighter falls of between 1 and 5 millimetres expected across the remaining summer cropping regions in New South Wales during the next 8 days.

Total forecast rainfall (mm) for the period 9 to 16 January 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: 9/01/2020

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 December 2019

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 01-Jan US$/A$ 0.7 0.69 1%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 0.71 -1%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 07-Jan US$/t 235 233 <1%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 237 <1%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart
Coarse Grains – US no. 2 yellow corn, fob Gulf 08-Jan US$/t 171 168 2%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 169 1%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Canola – Rapeseed, Europe, fob Hamburg 26-Nov US$/t 423 423 0% 423 0% chart
Cotton – Cotlook 'A' Index 09-Jan USc/lb 78.4 77.9 <1%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 80.8 -3%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 09-Jan USc/lb 13.5 13.4 <1%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 12.1 12%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Wool – Eastern Market Indicator 19-Dec Ac/kg clean 1,558 1,503 4%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 1,862 -16%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart
Wool – Western Market Indicator 20-Dec Ac/kg clean 1,671 1,614 4%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 2,031 -18%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 07-Jan A$/t 320 320 0% 371 -14%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart
Feed Wheat – General purpose, Sydney, NSW 07-Jan A$/t 442 447 -1%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 455 -3%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart
Feed Barley – Sydney, NSW 07-Jan A$/t 385 382 <1%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 438 -12%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart
Grain Sorghum – Sydney, NSW 07-Jan A$/t 467 477 -2%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 an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart

Selected domestic livestock indicator prices

Beef – Eastern Young Cattle Indicator 12-Dec Ac/kg cwt 496 500 <1%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 496 -6%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. chart
Mutton – Mutton indicator (18–24 kg fat score 2–3), Vic 13-Dec Ac/kg cwt 602 614 -2%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points. 602 49%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 12-Dec Ac/kg cwt 709 694 2%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 709 7%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 13-Dec Ac/kg cwt 455 421 <1%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) 06-Jan Ac/kg cwt 816 822 0% 580 41%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 14-Dec Ac/kg lwt 330 315 5%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 330 2%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. 105 na chart

Global Dairy Trade (GDT) weighted average prices a

Dairy – Whole milk powder 07-Jan US$/t 3,150 3,099 2%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 2,705 16%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Dairy – Skim milk powder 07-Jan US$/t 3,026 2,867 6%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 2,201 37%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Dairy – Cheddar cheese 07-Jan US$/t 4,015 3,869 4%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 3,371 19%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. chart
Dairy – Anhydrous milk fat 07-Jan US$/t 4,929 4,866 1%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points. 5,137 -4%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: 30 January 2020
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