Warm and dry winter predicted for nation

Amber Wilson and Benita Kolovos

Warmer, drier conditions are in store for much of the nation over coming months, but winter has not been cancelled, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

The bureau on Thursday released its climate outlook for June to August, forecasting winter days and nights are likely to be warmer-than-average for most of Australia.

Only far north Queensland and the Northern Territory were expected to experience average maximum temperatures.

Bureau head of long-range forecasts Andrew Watkins said the warm and dry conditions were due to a high pressure system hovering over the nation, with cold fronts that normally bring rain sitting farther south than normal.

He said while that isn't ideal for farmers, Australia wasn't "locked in" to the conditions for the rest of the year.

"We don't have an El Nino at the moment and we don't have a similar problem in the Indian Ocean," he told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.

"And that's a good thing - it means we're not necessarily locked in to the dry for the rest of the year.

"We have what we call neutral ENSO conditions, or neutral climate conditions."

Dr Watkins said the country was still waiting for "good rains" to come through and fill dams and reservoirs, noting conditions were "not the best" for starting crops.

"Stream flows are expected to be quite low, meaning rivers and streams in southern Australia are likely to have lower stores than normal," he says.

"It doesn't mean winter has been cancelled by any means - we'll still get rainfall, probably mid-winter and onwards."

Dr Watkins said parts of southern Australia and southern Victoria have had their autumn breaks and hopefully Western Australia would get rain in coming days.

He said unfortunately soils are dry in southern Queensland, but a few cool nights would bring a great start to mango-growing season in Darwin.

Chances of a dry June are greater than 80 per cent for northern Victoria, southern and western NSW and most of SA, while WA's Gascoyne region is also likely to be drier than average.

But plenty of rain is tipped to drench Tasmania, particularly in the east.

Snow season won't start early, but the neutral climate conditions should be good news for snow depths.

The winter outlook follows what the bureau labelled one of Australia's warmest autumns on record and its second-warmest summer on record.

"The past few weeks have certainly been very dry and very warm for southern states," Dr Watkins says.

"Southern Australia is likely to (have had its) second driest on record for autumn, the driest being way back in 1902."