No Drought Statement issued for January

December rainfall was above average for northern parts of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, extending down through South Australia, eastern and southern parts of Western Australia and parts of western New South Wales and Victoria and northern Tasmania. It was below average for much of eastern Queensland, northeastern New South Wales and eastern Victoria.

Late autumn to early spring saw above average rainfall across many parts of Australia, largely clearing any rainfall deficiencies for periods shorter than three years.

The recent October to December period has seen areas of rainfall deficiencies develop in parts of southeast Queensland and north coastal New South Wales. This will be monitored for any further developments.


Soil moisture

Total soil moisture in the lower layer (from 10 cm to 100 cm deep) has decreased through December across eastern parts of Australia, especially in the southeast which saw average to below average rainfall and above average temperatures in December, hovever totals still remain average to above average over much of this area. Soil moisture has increased through the northern half of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and into South Australia, reflecting recent rainfall across these areas.

Compared to November, soil moisture is now close to average for most of southeastern Australia and below average for large parts of eastern Queensland.

  • Average to above average rainfall over much of Australia during December contributed to the continued absence of any large-scale rainfall deficiencies.
  • December lower-layer soil moisture largely reflects recent rainfall and temperatures with continued drying out in eastern New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
  • Small areas of rainfall deficiencies emerging at the three-month time scale in southeast Queensland and north coast of New South Wales.

Product code: IDCKGD0AR0

Soil moisture data is from the Bureau's Australian Water Resources Assessment Landscape (AWRA-L) model, developed through the Water Information Research and Development Alliance between the Bureau and CSIRO.
See: Australian Landscape Water Balance.

This section displays rainfall maps. Current drought status is described in the previous section. For historical drought status statements, go to archive of drought statements

Also available at Maps – recent conditions

What is drought?

Drought is a prolonged, abnormally dry period when the amount of available water is insufficient to meet our normal use. Drought is not simply low rainfall; if it was, much of inland Australia would be in almost perpetual drought. Because people use water in so many different ways, there is no universal definition of drought. Meteorologists monitor the extent and severity of drought in terms of rainfall deficiencies. Agriculturalists rate the impact on primary industries, hydrologists compare ground water levels, and sociologists define it by social expectations and perceptions.

It is generally difficult to compare one drought to another, since each drought differs in the seasonality, location, spatial extent and duration of the associated rainfall deficiencies. Additionally, each drought is accompanied by varying temperatures and soil moisture deficits.

Rainfall averages, variability and trends

Median rainfall map, links to climate average maps An area experiences a rainfall deficit when the total rain received is less than the average rainfall for that period.


Lowest on record - lowest since at least 1900 when the data analysed begin.
Severe deficiency - rainfalls in the lowest 5% of historical totals.
Serious deficiency - rainfalls in the lowest 10% of historical totals, but not in the lowest 5%.

Very much below average - rainfalls in the lowest 10% of historical totals.
Below average - rainfalls in the lowest 30% of historical totals, but not in the lowest 10%.
Average - rainfalls in the middle 40% of historical totals.
Above average - rainfalls in the highest 30% of historical totals, but not in the highest 10%.
Very much above average - rainfalls in the highest 10% of historical totals.