Australia has had its wettest and coolest summer in at least five years, climate experts say.
Temperatures plunged to the coolest they’ve been since 2011/2012 – with only Queensland and West Australia’s west coast the exception.
And it was the third wettest December since records began in 1900, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s climate and water outlook unveiled on Thursday.
It comes as large parts of the country are in for a wetter and warmer autumn than average.
“Autumn rainfall is likely to be wetter than average across large parts of eastern Australia, particularly in March and April,” senior climatologist Andrew Watkins says.
He says autumn days are also likely to be warmer than average across northern Australia, Tasmania and far western parts of West Australia – but cooler in parts of NSW.
Dr Watkins says it comes after the country had the wettest and coolest summer in at least five years, as a result of La Nina.
The event typically brings more rain, warmer overnight temperatures in the north, cooler day temperatures in the south and more tropical cyclones.
Summer rainfall was generally above average, with the only significantly dry region being in southern Queensland.
The wetter and cooler than average conditions are likely to continue well into autumn, Dr Watkins predicts.
The outlook released on Thursday forecasts a wetter than average autumn across Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, southern and eastern Queensland, most of NSW, eastern South Australia and eastern Tasmania.
It’s also likely to be warmer than average for most of Australia, except for parts of the south and west.
Meanwhile, days are likely to be cooler than average for parts of NSW.
However, most of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria and western parts of Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania do not show any significant shift towards a wetter or drier three months, the outlook predicts.
Dr Watkins says the risk of widespread flooding is forecast to be highest for parts of eastern and northern Australia.
Meanwhile, parts of coastal Queensland will still have above normal fire risk because of dry conditions.