Monsoon break continues but clouds are on the horizon



Another relatively settled week is on the cards for parts of northern Australia, but there are signs that heavy rain and thunderstorms could return in the second half of March. 

This temporary easing of heavy monsoonal rainfall comes as the monsoon trough moves north away from Australia. 

While showers and storms have moved over parts of Northern Australia each day last week, widespread rainfall totals have not been observed across a broad area of the tropics. 

This is set to continue this week as the monsoon trough remains well to the north of Australia. The map below shows one model’s weekly rainfall forecast leading up to Thursday, March 17 across northern Australia. 

 northern AUS

Image: ECMWF forecast rainfall for the week ending on Thursday, March 17. 

While the NT and WA are both expecting another quiet weather week, a low-pressure trough sitting over QLD is likely to trigger significant rainfall totals to the North Tropical Coast and Tablelands. Totals of 100-200 mm are forecast for the region as the trough feeds high humidity air into the region. 

Looking ahead, the tropics may re-awaken from late next week, as the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) moves across northern Australia.  

Some models are suggesting that the MJO will strengthen as it moves east across the Indian Ocean towards Australia. If this occurs, heavy rainfall, thunderstorm and cyclone risk will increase during the second half of March across northern Australia. 

In response to this pulse, there are signs that a tropical cyclone could develop in the West Region to the south of the Cocos Islands next week. At this stage the system looks like it will stay well to the west of the mainland. 

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