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Less than average winter rainfall predicted

By Country News

Winter is here — but it’s going to be warmer and drier than usual.

The Bureau of Meteorology on Thursday released its winter outlook at the end of what’s shaping up to be one of the five hottest autumns on record.

The figures don’t look promising for eastern and central Australia, with drought-affected communities unlikely to receive even average rainfalls this winter.

The bureau’s long-range forecasting manager Andrew Watkins said models were predicting below-average June rainfall in NSW and Victoria.

There’s also double the risk of an El Nino forming this year, which typically means less rain for Australia’s east in winter and spring.

‘‘This certainly doesn’t mean we will have no rainfall over winter — it is the southern wet season after all — but it does support the model outlook for a drier-than-average winter, with the possibility of more evaporation than normal,’’ Dr Watkins said.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s June to August outlook predicts between 50mm and 100mm of rain will fall in northern Victoria and the southern Riverina during the three-month period, about half of the average rainfall for the same period.

Drier-than-average conditions usually also mean an increase in cloud-free nights which increase the risk of frosts in susceptible areas.

The bureau is also expecting warmer-than-average days for most of Australia.

‘‘Our climate outlook shows most states and territories have large areas where chances are greater than 80 per cent for warmer-than-average days,’’ Dr Watkins said.

The bureau will release its autumn summaries on June 3 but preliminary figures show Australia has sweltered through one of its top five hottest autumns as daytime temperatures continued to climb above average.