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.
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 details are reported when there are periods of significant rainfall deficits.
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.
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
- Average rainfall: How much rain do you expect?
- Rainfall variability: How consistent is rainfall in your area?
- Rainfall history: Check tables, graphs and data from your local weather station.
- Rainfall trends: Has your rainfall changed?
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.
For the week to 17 January 2017, rainfall was recorded in Queensland, the Northern Territory, most of the northern half of Western Australia, as well as southern and northern areas of South Australia. Rainfall was also recorded in southern and northeastern Victoria, western and northern Tasmania; also the southeast and northeast of New South Wales.
The week began with a broad area of low pressure located across northern Australia that produced extensive shower and thunderstorm activity over Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula, the Gulf Country, the Top End of the Northern Territory, and the Kimberley district in Western Australia. A weak tropical low situated off the northern Queensland coast along the trough line produced locally heavier falls. Another trough located along the west coast of Western Australia triggered thunderstorms with moderate totals recorded in parts of the central interior, Gascoyne, Pilbara and Kimberley.
In the middle of the week, a cold front tracked across the south of the country, and an extensive band of thunderstorms formed on the trough ahead of this system. Moderate falls were recorded over southern districts of South Australia, parts of southern and northeastern Victoria, and Tasmania.
At the end of the week, a surface trough extending across much of central Australia produced showers and thunderstorm activity. Moderate to heavy falls were reported in parts of the Kimberley, central Northern Territory, and in a line from the Gulf Country to northeastern New South Wales. Extensive areas of cloud and embedded thunderstorms located near and to the north of the trough, continued to produce moderate to heavy falls over northeastern parts of the Northern Territory and into Queensland’s Gulf Country and the Cape York Peninsula. Thunderstorms also produced moderate falls in southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales.
Rainfall totals between 100 mm and 200 mm were recorded in pockets of the Kimberley and Pilbara in Western Australia; parts of Arnhem Land and central districts in the Northern Territory; the central west, Gulf Country, Cape York Peninsula and north tropical coast in Queensland; and a small area of northeastern New South Wales. Higher rainfall totals, in excess of 200 mm were recorded through isolated parts of Queensland’s central west, Gulf Country and north tropical coast, including the highest weekly rainfall total of 251 mm at Greenhaven on the Barron North Coast in Queensland.
Rainfall totals between 50 mm and 100 mm were recorded across large parts of the Kimberley and Pilbara districts in Western Australia; eastern parts of Arnhem Land and central districts of the Northern Territory; most of the Cape York Peninsula, Gulf Country and central west in Queensland extending into pockets along the State’s east coast and southeast districts. Similar totals were recorded in isolated parts of northeastern New South Wales and an area in western Tasmania.
Rainfall totals between 10 mm and 50 mm were recorded in much of the northern half of Western Australia; in the far north and southern half of South Australia; southern and northeastern Victoria and in northern and western Tasmania. Similar totals were recorded in southeastern and northeastern New South Wales, and most of Queensland except in the far southwest and inland southern border.
Little or no rainfall was recorded in eastern Tasmania, much of the southern parts of the central interior of Western Australia, large areas of the Pastoral districts of South Australia, and parts of the northwest and eastern areas of Victoria. Little or no rainfall was recorded in remaining parts of New South Wales, southern and southwestern Queensland, and in the far south and far north of the Northern Territory.
Impact of recent rainfall on deficits
Due to above average rainfall in recent months over areas which had experienced deficiencies since mid-2015, no large-scale deficiencies are currently present. Rainfall analyses are available for standard periods out to 48 months.
Product code: IDCKGRWAR0