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Warm, dry end to 2019 increasingly likely for NSW

Ben Domensino, Wednesday November 13, 2019 - 09:31 EDT

The ongoing influence of two climate drivers will tip the odds in favour of drier and warmer weather in NSW during the final eight weeks of 2019.

At the start of November, NSW was having its warmest year-to-date on record based on both mean and maximum temperatures and its driest year-to-date since 1940. 

This prolonged spell of unusually warm and dry weather provided the fuel for an outbreak of bushfires across NSW and southern Queensland during the past week, some of which destroyed homes and claimed lives.

Image: Satellite image showing smoke plumes from numerous fires in northeast NSW on Tuesday, November 12th.

Despite some welcome rain in parts of western NSW at the beginning of November, drier conditions have returned to the state during the past week. This trend looks set to continue, with no signs of significant rain-bearing systems during the week ahead.

Looking further ahead, there are indications that drier and warmer than usual weather could remain a dominant feature during the rest of 2019.

A strongly positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is likely to maintain an influence on Australia's weather patterns from now until the middle of summer. A positive IOD typically causes a delayed start to northern Australia's monsoon season and promotes warmer and drier weather in parts of central and southern Australia in late spring. It also raises the likelihood of dangerous bushfire weather as we transition into summer.

In addition to the IOD, a negative phase of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) is expected to last through the second half of November. When the SAM is negative in late spring, it raises the likelihood of dry and warm weather, in eastern Australia, both of which exacerbate the risk of bushfires.

It's worth pointing out that while a positive IOD and negative SAM increase the likelihood of drier and warmer weather in some areas of Australia, they don't guarantee that it will happen. Furthermore, individual heavy rain events and periods of relatively cool weather are still likely during the months ahead.

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