THE BUREAU of Meteorology (BOM) has the odds firmly in favour of a wetter than average winter over key cropping regions in inland NSW and South Australia, but the chances are far less favourable in WA's cropping belt.
There is over a 70 per cent chance of exceeding median rainfall over the majority of NSW west of the Great Dividing Range and a similar forecast for the Eyre Peninsula in SA, with the Yorke Peninsula only slightly behind at 65pc.
This is in contrast to WA where all grain growing regions are tipped to have below 50pc chance of exceeding above average winter rainfall, sliding to an alarming 30-35pc in the northern cropping zone right down from Geraldton via Dalwallinu as far south as Merredin.
In some consolation for WA growers, while the less definitive medium term forecast is not great they are likely to receive a welcome late autumn top-up.
BOM's four day outlook suggests widespread falls of 25-50mm, with some patches slightly lighter at 15-25mm, over much of the wheatbelt, which will set up the recently planted crop.
With low evaporation rates during the short days of winter, a rain of this magnitude would allow farmers to rest easy for a significant proportion of early winter, especially given reasonable autumn rain for much of the state.
The forecast would be welcomed in South Australia, which has endured a markedly drier than average autumn.
Across the border in western Victoria, which has also been parched in 2021, the outlook is reasonable but the signals for wet are not as strong as elsewhere.
The very dry far north of the state is likely to see above median rainfall, with a 70pc plus chance around Mildura, while for the majority of the state north of the divide it is a 60-65pc chance of above median rain.
In the south there is a neutral outlook.
The strongest chance of above average rainfall is in western Queensland, with a whopping 80pc plus chance of higher than median rain in centres such as Boulia and Birdsville.
However, with median rain of just 3mm at Boulia this does not mean big totals are necessarily likely.
Worrying, BOM climatologist Lynette Bettio said the dry autumn in the south was part of a long-term trend of less rainfall in autumn and early winter in southern regions.
Dr Bettio said observations from the past 20 years showed a trend towards drier than average conditions in Australia's south during autumn and early winter.
The dry southern autumn came in spite of a neutral phase with no strong climate drivers at work.
Autumn was not dry everywhere, however, with NSW recording its second wettest March on record, with a heavy band of tropical moisture dumping huge totals of rain over much of the state, causing severe flooding.
In terms of temperatures over winter, Dr Bettio said following the coolest autumn for much of the country since 2015, temperatures were likely to be above average through winter.
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