Rainfall deficiencies

Australia is a large continent containing many different climate zones, from wet tropics in the north, arid and semi-arid conditions in the interior, and alpine climates in the south-east. Each climate zone is influenced by very different large-scale, predominant weather and climate patterns. For this reason, at any time different parts of the Australian continent can be affected by very different climate extremes. An example of this occurred in 2010, where southwest Western Australia experienced its driest year on record, in contrast to the rest of Australia, which received above-average to very-much-above-average rainfall.

Use our Drought Statement, rainfall maps and reports to watch for areas with significant long and short-term rainfall deficiencies.

Issued on 8 July 2014 by the National Climate Centre

Rainfall deficiencies continue in Queensland and northeastern New South Wales

June rainfall was below average for the western half of Australia, parts of Tasmania and areas of coastal northern New South Wales and southeast Queensland. Above-average rainfall in northern Queensland and around the Gulf of Carpentaria largely missed areas experiencing rainfall deficiencies for the longer 21-month period. An area of southwestern Queensland received above-average monthly rain while in the remainder of the affected areas totals were generally near-average. Above-average rain also fell in coastal South Australia, much of Victoria and parts of southeastern and central New South Wales, halting the development of deficiencies at shorter timescales in parts of the mainland southeast.



Rainfall deficiencies for the 7 months from December 2013 to June 2014 have increased in extent over southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales, remained similar to the December to May period in southeastern Tasmania, and increased along the southern coast of Western Australia. June rainfall has stalled developing deficiencies from the mainland southeast. Serious to severe deficiencies (lowest 10% to 5% of records) are present along the coast of eastern Tasmania and southern Western Australia between about Busselton and Esperance, a large area of northeastern New South Wales and areas of greater southeastern Queensland as well as isolated pockets in other parts of Queensland and a small area in the central Top End.



Rainfall deficiencies for the 21-month (October 2012 to June 2014) period have increased in Western Australia in the region near Shark Bay, decreased in central Victoria and increased slightly in Queensland and adjacent areas.

Serious to severe deficiencies (lowest 10% to 5% of records) remain in an area spanning much of Queensland away from the eastern coast and also in smaller areas in adjacent parts of the Northern Territory and South Australia, and in an area inland of the Great Dividing Range extending from southern Queensland into northern New South Wales. The area of deficiencies on the coast of Western Australia near Shark Bay has increased in size compared to the previous Drought Statement. In Victoria areas of deficiencies in the central region and inland west remain, but have decreased in extent since last month.

More generally, rainfall for the 21-month period ending June 2014 has continued to be below average over the eastern mainland and parts of Tasmania. Long-term deficiencies also remain for periods greater than two years starting from the end of the 2010–2012 La Niña.



Upper layer weekly soil moisture for the week ending 29 June is below average along much of the eastern seaboard between the South Coast district of New South Wales and Queensland's Capricornia District, as well as in parts of southeastern Tasmania. Large parts of the Northern Territory and Western Australia are also experiencing below-average soil moisture in the upper layer. Soil moisture is above average for areas around the south of the Gulf of Carpentaria and across the mid-Cape York Peninsula, very much above average for northwestern Tasmania, and in a broad band along the southern coast of South Australia and Victoria, extending inland through much of Victoria and reaching the alpine regions of New South Wales.

Lower layer weekly soil moisture for the week ending 29 June is below average across parts of inland and southeastern Queensland, northern and eastern New South Wales, the interior of the Top End and along the west coast of Western Australia between the Pilbara and Central West District, extending inland through the Central Wheat Belt District. Soil moisture is above average for part of the Cape York Peninsula extending well inland from Cooktown, from south of the Gulf of Carpentaria through the central Northern Territory and much of the western half of Western Australia excluding the Kimberley, and then from the Nullarbor Plain through coastal South Australia and much of the mainland southeast as well as northern Tasmania and the Bass Straight Islands.



Click on the map for full resolution.

Click on the map for full resolution.
Black and white version

Click on the map for full resolution.

Click on the map for full resolution.
Black and white version

A mob of sheep raises dust north of Dubbo, New South Wales, during drought. Photo by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries

Email subscriptions

To subscribe to email alerts, contact helpdesk.climate@bom.gov.au and include 'Drought Statements' in the subject line.

Definitions

Product Code IDCKGD0AR0

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

These maps are also available from Maps - recent conditions

Weekly rainfall updates

Current map, small viewThe Weekly Rainfall Update describes rainfall over the previous week. It includes a map and a summary table of the highest weekly totals. A discussion of the impact of recent rains on rainfall deficiencies is also presented.

Seasonal rainfall outlooks

Current map, small viewSeasonal rainfall outlooks outline likely conditions over three-month periods.
Regional outlooks: northern Australia, south-eastern Australia, Western Australia.
Previous outlooks: Archive

Seasonal temperature outlooks

Current map, small viewSeasonal temperature outlooks outline likely conditions over three-month periods.
Regional outlooks: northern Australia, south-eastern Australia, Western Australia.
Previous outlooks: Archive

Seasonal streamflow forecasts

Australian streamflows are among the most variable in the world. Seasonal streamflow forecasts extends water management decision making capability. Forecasts are issued monthly.

Climate statements archive

The archive includes previous monthly, seasonal and annual climate summaries for nation-wide, state/territory and capital city conditions.

Maps of recent conditions

CSIRO water balance maps

Small image of water balance mapCSIRO (AWAP) Water balance maps include maps of soil moisture and water fluxes contributing to changes in soil moisture (rainfall, transpiration, soil evaporation, surface runoff and deep drainage).

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.

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.

Definitions

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.

Acknowledgements

Front page photo, provided by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: 'A mob of sheep raises dust north of Dubbo, New South Wales, during drought'