THERE are signs that more useful rain could be on the horizon as NSW continues to gradually recover from one of its worst droughts on record.
At the end of last week, just over 22 per cent of NSW was categorised as being out of drought. Of the remaining 77.4 per cent of the state, only 6.5 per cent was in the Intense Drought Category.
This has been a positive change from the end of 2019, when the entire state was in drought. However, there is still a long way to go.
Despite the relatively wet start to 2020, the 36 month period from April 2017 to March 2020 was the driest such three year period on record for NSW.
So, what can we expect to see in the coming months?
Two of the main climate drivers that influence weather in NSW, and broadly across south-eastern Australia, are in a neutral phase.
More specifically, neither El Nino or La Nina are occurring in the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is not positive or negative. El Nino and a positive IOD typically cause below-average rain in south-eastern Australia (like we saw late last year), while La Nina and a negative IOD usually produce more rain in this region.
The latest seasonal outlook issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on Tuesday indicates that La Nina and a negative IOD are both possible in winter or spring.
While this is potentially exciting news, it's worth pointing out that forecasting the future behaviour of these two climate drivers is difficult at this time of year, because models tend to be less accurate during autumn.
At this stage, this is something to keep an eye on. If La Nina and a negative IOD do develop later in the year, 2020 could look very different to 2019, which was the hottest and driest year on record in NSW.