SYDNEY, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Hit hard by unprecedented spring wildfires and the worst drought on record for Australia's east coast, the national Bureau of Meteorology's Summer Outlook has forecast a continuation of warm, dry weather for large parts of the country.
With farmers and their livestock already suffering immensely, and a number of regional communities under threat of running out of water, Thursday's climate outlook shows "the high likelihood" of below average rainfall and warmer than average days and nights for most of Australia.
According to Bureau of Meteorology head of long-range forecasts Dr Andrew Watkins, the key culprit for the current and expected conditions is one of the strongest positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) events on record.
"A positive IOD means we have cooler than average water pooling off Indonesia, and this means we see less rain-bearing weather systems, and warmer than average temperatures for large parts of the country," he said.
"The positive IOD means we're also expecting a delayed onset for the northern monsoon, one of the key drivers for tropical rainfall during the summer months."
"At this stage we're expecting the onset of the northern monsoon by mid-summer, which should see the odds for closer to average rainfall increasing from January and into February."
Due to the difficult conditions Watkins has warned Aussie communities to be alert to the potential of severe weather risks over the coming months.
"We've already seen significant bushfire activity during spring, and the outlook for drier and warmer than average conditions will maintain that heightened risk over the coming months," he said.
"This outlook also means the risk of heatwaves is increased."
But even with the drier than average outlook, Watkins added that "localized flooding remains a risk under particular meteorological conditions such as thunderstorms, and of course communities in the north need to be prepared at this time of year for tropical cyclones," he said.
The only regions which are forecast to receive wetter than average conditions over the summer, are some coastal areas in the northwest of Western Australia.