Issued 4 April 2003

Rainfall deficiencies persist across many parts of the country

March rainfall did little to change the existing rainfall deficiencies across many parts of the country, the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology announced today. Across western New South Wales, well below average rainfall for the month caused a slight intensification of the serious to severe deficiencies there.

12-month rainfall deficiencies

For the 12-month period from April 2002 to March 2003, serious to severe rainfall deficiencies stretch from far north Queensland across most of NSW, parts of eastern SA and over the eastern two-thirds of Victoria. Also affected are eastern Tasmania, parts of west and south WA, as well as the eastern inland of WA and the adjacent region in the NT.

Localised improvements occurred around Hobart following heavy March falls, around Wagin in southwest WA, and around Grafton and Moree in northeast NSW. There were also some slight improvements in parts of southeast Queensland.

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16-month rainfall deficiencies

For the longer 16-month period from December 2001 to March 2003, some additional areas between Fraser Island and the mid-north coast of NSW have also experienced serious to severe rainfall deficiencies.

Pacific Ocean indicators continue to point to the decline of the 2002/03 El Niño, and a continuation of this trend would suggest that further follow-up rains are possible over eastern Australia during autumn.

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Definitions

Lowest on record - lowest in the historical analysis, which runs from 1900.
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.

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