Drought Statement - Issued 7th May 2003


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Statement on Drought for the 13 and 17-month periods ending 30th April 2003
ISSUED 7th May 2003

Rainfall deficiencies ease across northern NSW

Above-average April rainfall eased the existing rainfall deficiencies across much of northern New South Wales, according to the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology. There was little change to the rainfall deficiencies in other parts of eastern Australia however.

For the 13-month period from April 2002 to April 2003, serious to severe rainfall deficiencies stretched from far north Queensland across most of NSW, parts of eastern SA and over central Victoria. Also affected were northeastern Tasmania, parts of west and south WA, as well as the eastern inland of WA and the adjacent region in the NT.

Localised improvements resulted from heavy April falls in eastern Tasmania, eastern Victoria and in parts of southeast Queensland.

For the longer 17-month period from December 2001 to April 2003, the picture is now very similar to the 13-month period, and accordingly no further statements will be issued for the period beginning in December 2001. (A standard period 18-month map is available on the Bureauís web site - see below).

Deficiencies over the longer period are slightly stronger across northwest Victoria, areas to the south of Charleville in southern Queensland, and those parts of western WA showing as seriously to severely deficient over the shorter 13-month period.

Pacific Ocean indicators show that the 2002/03 El Niño has finished, and consequently that further follow-up rains are possible over eastern Australia during the next few months. For more information on El Niño, see the El Niño Wrap Up page.


Rainfall deficiency maps for standard periods (3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24 and 36 months) are updated monthly on the Bureau's web site.

Note: The terms used to describe rainfall in these Drought Statements have the following meanings -

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


For more information regarding this rainfall deficiencies statement, please contact the following climate meteorologists in the National Climate Centre:

Blair Trewin on (03) 9669 4603
Grant Beard on (03) 9669 4527



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A black and white version is also available.