Weak La Niña makes impact

Below average: The Bureau of Meteorology released the Australian rainfall deciles from January 1 to December 31, 2017 last week.
Below average: The Bureau of Meteorology released the Australian rainfall deciles from January 1 to December 31, 2017 last week.

The combination of hot days and dry conditions throughout 2017 made it a tough year for broadacre farmers and graziers alike.

It was the warmest on record for NSW according to the Bureau of Meterology’s annual Climate Statement and the third-warmest year on record for Australia, 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.

But the outlook for the region for the next few months is looking good according to Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Felicity Gamble.

"Our first outlook for February to April sees a reasonable outlook for rainfall with a couple of different influences, including a weak La Niña," Ms Gamble said. "It's not the same strength as the La Niña of 2010-2012 and  has started much later in the year than we normally see.

"Also ocean temperatures to the north and north-west of Australia - normally quite warm during a La Nina - are only just warming now."

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

"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."

The chance of more rain should bring slightly cooler daytime temperatures as well.

"Daytime temperatures are likely to be below average with a wet outlook due to the increased cloud cover," she said.

Overnight temperatures for central and northern NSW in February show little shift from normal.