BoM ENSO Outlook

According to the latest Bureau of Meteorology ENSO update, the 2017–18 La Niña has ended with the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) indicators easing back to neutral levels.  With this development, the Bureau shifted the ENSO Outlook from LA NIÑA to INACTIVE.

Follow links below for more details:

Tropical Low OWS06S18 has developed SE the Bonaparte Gulf and is expected to track southwest and slowly intensify as it remains over land in the northern Kimberley. TL OWS06S18 is expected to move offshore just north of Broome on the 16th and intensify more rapidly becoming a Category 1 Tropical Cyclone in the evening.

Available numerical models are in a spread from the 17th but the consensus indicates the system will become slow moving as it gradually intensifies on the 17th-18th.  It is expected to track SSE-SSW and should make its landfall near Port Hedland on the 19th.

Forecast track of Tropical Low OWS06S18 issued 0600UTC Feb 14 2018

According to the BoM latest Drought Statement, above average rainfall for Western Australia eases deficiencies across WA but remain along the coast of Pilbara and Gascoyne.

It is a different story on eastern Australia.  Rainfall deficiencies have increased in eastern Australia, with large areas of western and central inland Queensland and central eastern New South Wales affected.

Please follow the link below for more details:

Rainfall Deficiencies: 10 months (1 April 2017 – 31 January 2018)

In Australia, about 10 people die each year from lightning strikes.  A hundred more gets injured each year.  To be safe, at the first signs of visual lightning or audible thunder – go indoors.  No place outdoors is safe.

How about lightning strikes on commercial planes?  Is it safe to fly in lightning?

Commercial planes are hit by lightning daily and designed to take lightning strikes.  Lightning typically strikes a relatively sharp edge of a plane, like a wingtip or nose, and the current exits via the tail. This happens because an aircraft’s body acts as a Faraday cage.

A Faraday cage operates because an external electrical field causes the electric charges within the cage’s conducting material to be distributed such that they cancel the field’s effect in the cage’s interior. When a lightning strikes an airplane, the energy and electric charge run around the outside of the vessel, protecting the interior from any voltage.

Therefore from a safety standpoint, lightning strikes on commercial planes are not a severe problem compared to turbulence or hail damage which can cause more catastrophic consequences.

Lightning flashes behind a Qantas plane, as captured from La Perouse on October 2015. Photo: Daniel Shaw

Three moon cycles will line up over Australia on Jan 31.  A supermoon, a total lunar eclipse, and a blue moon converge for a celestial view that will produce a bright, red moon.

This rare phenomenon last occurred in 1866 in the western hemisphere, more that 150 years ago.  Super blue blood moon means the second full moon for January 2018 (a blue moon) will be at its closest point to the Earth, appearing bigger and brighter (a super moon) and will be in the Earth shadow (lunar eclipse) as it passes directly behind the Earth.

The best vantage points will the the eastern coast of Australia (NSW and Queensland).  In Melbourne, the best place to view is the eastern suburbs.  If the weather and cloud cover don’t cooperate, watch the NASA Livestream instead.  So go out on January 31 and watch the wonderful night sky as this rare celestial even unfolds.

  • Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart: Full eclipse from 11.51pm to 1.08am
  • Darwin: Total eclipse from 10.21pm to 11.38pm
  • Brisbane: Total eclipse from 10.51pm to 12.08am
  • Adelaide: Total eclipse from 11.21pm to 12.38am
  • Perth: Total eclipse from 8.51pm to 10.08pm

Image: Blood moon lunar eclipse via

The Australian Open is a mid-summer event in Melbourne and will always have days of scorching temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius and over.

The tournament’s extreme heat policy calls for the roofs to be closed on the main show courts and play to be suspended on outer courts when the temperature reaches 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT), which takes into account humidity and wind speed, reaches 32.5 Celsius (90.5 Fahrenheit).

The high temperature Friday marginally reached 40 degrees Celsius, but the wet-bulb temperature remained below the 32.5 Celsius threshold, so play was not halted.

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According to the BoM latest Drought Statement, the rainfall for December was below to very much below average for most of the Northern Territory, Queensland, and the Goldfields region of Western Australia but a wet December in Victoria and NSW eased the deficiencies in the southeast.

Please follow the link below for more details:

Rainfall deficiency map June-Dec 2017

Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, Distinguished Professor at the University of Georgia in Athens and director of the university’s atmospheric science program, said in this article:

“Weather Forecasting is often perceived as guesswork by the public. There is not a meteorologist alive who has avoided jokes about the accuracy of forecasts. But these are misperceptions. The current era of weather forecasts, as witnessed during the society-altering 2017 hurricane season, is quite extraordinary because of rapid advances in meteorological knowledge, satellites, radar systems, and computer models. We now have technology in place to provide significant lead time for landfalling hurricanes, potentially tornadic storms, and multi-day flood events.”

Offshore Weather Services embraces the rapid advances in meteorological knowledge and uses the latest technology in its forecasting services.  OWS clients greatly benefit on the high accuracy of the forecasts and the extended lead time on tropical cyclone events.


Photo courtesy of NBC NEWS


335 tropical cyclones have been independently analysed and tracked by Offshore Weather Services Duty Forecasters over the Northwest Pacific, Eastern Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and northern Australian oceanic waters since 2008.

Using established Dvorak satellite analysis techniques from imagery received directly at the OWS satellite earth station in Melbourne, Australia, and more recently microwave imagery, scatterometer and other imaging data, OWS provide independent analysis of tropical cyclone activity in the Asia Pacific region.

As OWS celebrates its 15th years of uninterrupted service to the oil and energy industry, we look back and celebrate how the company has grown. Continuous improvement in weather forecasting technology has resulted in enormous improvements in the accuracy of marine weather, aviation and tropical cyclone forecasts.

Based on the current atmospheric dynamics and the analogue years selected, the total number of tropical cyclones should be near or slightly above the climatological average across the NW Shelf -Timor Sea, Arafura Sea-West Gulf of Carpentaria and the Coral Sea regions with about 10 expected (Range 6 to 14) and 2-7 reaching Severe Tropical Cyclone strength. Six coastal impacts (range 2-12) are expected over the three regions.

The Tropical Cyclone Season should start late November 2017 and finish in late May 2018 with 40 TC days expected.

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