EL NINO and a record-warm Indian Ocean will continue to influence rainfall and temperatures for the first three months of 2016.
In its January to March seasonal outlook released today, the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting below average wet season rains in the tropical north.
It's also forecasting temperatures are likely to be warmer than average in the east and north, and cooler in parts of the southeast.
For most of Australia, the chance of above or below average January rainfall is roughly equal, with below average rainfall more likely in patches of western WA, the far tropical north and the southeast, BoM says.
The first three months of 2016 are likely to be drier than average across parts of northern Australia, and the southeast mainland.
Conversely, southeast Queensland and Tasmania are likely to be wetter than average.
"January is climatologically the warmest month of the year for Australia," BoM's report says.
"The outlook for January shows maximum and minimum temperatures are likely to be warmer than normal across northern and eastern Australia, and WA.
"Conversely, days and nights are likely to be cooler during January in parts of the southeast.
"January to March daytime and night-time temperatures are likely to be cooler than average across the southeast, including southeast SA, southwest NSW, western to central Victoria and most of Tasmania. Elsewhere, temperatures are likely to be warmer than average."
BoM reports the 2015 El Nino event is near its peak, with outlooks suggesting the event is likely to decline from early 2016.
El Nino's influence on Australian rainfall is variable at this time of year, with both wetter and drier summers observed in past events depending on how quickly the event breaks down. Historically summer sees lower rainfall across northern Queensland during El Niño. Conversely, inland WA often sees above-average rainfall at this time of year.
The combination of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and a strong El Nino contributed to a drier than average September and October.
"Despite rain during November, Australia is not well buffered with moisture leading into the warmer months," BoM says.
"The warm waters across the Indian Ocean may ease the outlook back towards an above-average rainfall outlook."