It could be a super toasty Christmas. Picture: iStock
It could be a super toasty Christmas. Picture: iStock

First clues on Christmas Day weather

LOOK, two months out is probably a little too early to say if it's going to be pool weather precisely on Christmas Day. But a festive period of high temperatures and little, if no, rain is looking likely.

Weather boffins have said the El Nino climate driver is now even more certain to make an arrival.

And for drought stricken farmers, El Nino is no Santa, in fact it brings nothing but bad tidings. But coastal communities in northern Australia will have to more to cheer about with fewer tropical cyclones on the cards.

The Bureau of Meteorology released its three monthly climate outlook on Thursday which looks back at recent conditions and ahead to the likely weather trends up to January 2019, including over the Christmas period.

Senior climatologist Felicity Gamble said September had been the driest on record and while the heavens have opened during October, in some areas it simply hasn't been enough.

"Some locations have had two to three times October's rainfall in a week, but others haven't seen any significant falls. Overall, the cropping season is looking like one of the 10 driest on record," Ms Gamble said.

"Temperatures in October have been warmer than average and Tasmania is on track to have one of the warmest Octobers on record."

Rainfall has been incredibly low in 2018 up until the end of September. Picture: Bureau of Meteorology.
Rainfall has been incredibly low in 2018 up until the end of September. Picture: Bureau of Meteorology.

HEADING INTO CHRISTMAS
Looking ahead, the Bureau has said November to January is likely to be warmer and drier than average.

Overall just about the entirety of continent has an 80 per cent chance of being warmer. Only Adelaide and the South Australian coast has an even chance of receiving its usual temperatures.

But narrow the outlook down to just December and even Adelaide has a 60 to 70 per chance of being hotter. For other capitals, there's a 65 to 75 per cent chance of an aircon Crimbo.

Nights are going to be a pain too with Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart and Canberra all likely to see warmer minimum temperatures in the coming three months. But Melbourne and Adelaide could actually see cooler lows after the sun sets.

It could be a super toasty Christmas. Picture: iStock
It could be a super toasty Christmas. Picture: iStock

Forecast models also show rainfall is likely to be down below average levels in late spring and early winter. The exception is the Top End, northern Queensland and New South Wales, all of which could see an average measure of moisture.

Two climate drivers are behind the crisp dry Christmas - El Nino from the east and the Indian Ocean Dipole from the west.

These are oscillations of sea surface temperatures that can have a big effect on the weather that reaches the mainland. If either are "positive", it's not good news for Australia.

"In the Indian Ocean, recent sea surface temperatures show a borderline positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)," said Ms Gamble.

"In the tropical pacific trade winds have weakened, warming the ocean and as a result have raised the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation, the full fancy name of the driver) outlook to El Nino alert."

An "alert" is just one step away from a full blown El Nino which is the term for a positive ENSO.

"A positive (IOD) and El Nino in spring typically increases the likelihood of a dry and warm end of the year," she said.

Rainfall is forecast to be below average across much of Australia up to and including January. Picture: Bureau of Meteorology.
Rainfall is forecast to be below average across much of Australia up to and including January. Picture: Bureau of Meteorology.

But the reduced moisture which El Ninos brings does has a beneficial side effect - fewer cyclones.

Between 10 and 13 is the usual number of cyclones that cross Australia's shore each year. However, this season there is a 63 per cent change of a reduction in that number.

So, pull the barbecue out of its winter slumber and start planning how many kilos of prawns you're going to throw on. It's looking like, just possibly, it could be a sunny Christmas Day.

Rising sea surface temperatures in the Pacific is making an El Nino more likely. Picture: Bureau of Meteorology.
Rising sea surface temperatures in the Pacific is making an El Nino more likely. Picture: Bureau of Meteorology.
It’s likely to be hotter than average going into winter. Picture: Bureau of Meteorology.
It’s likely to be hotter than average going into winter. Picture: Bureau of Meteorology.


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