Regional climate and future projections

>  West Gippsland CMA

Current climate

The West Gippsland region currently has maximum temperatures and minimum rainfall in summer. It is the wettest region in Victoria, with an annual rainfall average of 926 millimetres. However, there is substantial variation across the region. The southern flanks of the Great Dividing Range, the Strzelecki Ranges and south western part of the region receive high rainfalls of 1000 to over 1600 millimetres a year, falling as snow on the higher peaks of the Great Dividing Range in winter. Annual average rainfall decreases to less than 600 millimetres in the east, as a result of a rain shadow effect from Wilson's Promontory and the Strzelecki Ranges. Please click on the map tab above for a map showing how annual average rainfall varies across the region.

Low pressure systems off the east coast can be responsible for extremely heavy rainfall events in the east of the region. Although they can occur at any time of the year, east coast lows are more common during autumn and winter, with a maximum frequency in June.

Rainfall variability gives rise to dry and wet periods and influences the frequency of flood and fire events in the region.

Sea level rise is variable due to factors including prevailing winds, the changing strength of ocean currents, and gravitational pull of the polar ice-sheets. Rising sea levels in the region are observed through storm surges and coastal flooding; coastal erosion and shoreline retreat; increasing salinity of coastal waterways and inundation of low lying coastal areas.

Understanding current and past climate patterns within the region helps us to start thinking about potential future changes in climatic conditions.

Future climate

The latest climate projections from the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO indicate that the region will be subject to a warmer, drier and more variable climate in the future. The frequency and magnitude of flood, fire and drought is projected to increase and rising sea levels and storm surge is anticipated. A summary of the climate projections for the West Gippsland region are provided below.

Temperature - average temperatures are predicted to increase across all seasons. More very hot days and longer duration of warm spells.

Rainfall - less rainfall, particularly in winter and spring. More frequent and intense heavy rainfall events.

Drought - increased frequency and duration of extreme droughts.

Snow - continued decline in snowfall and maximum snow depth.

Wind - higher wind speeds during July to October. Fewer but more intense east coast lows.

Fire - harsher fire weather and longer fire seasons.

Sea level - higher sea levels and more frequent sea level extreme events (including storm surge).

Ocean - warmer and more acidic oceans.