Issued 5 January 2004

Long-term rainfall deficiencies remain in parts of northern and eastern Australia

The Bureau of Meteorology announced today that there remain large areas in eastern and northern Australia that have long-term (eighteen-month) rainfall deficiencies. This is despite the fact that over the past twelve months, rainfall deficiencies have been confined to isolated pockets in the east and far west of the country. Therefore, the rainfall deficiencies have mostly resulted from the combination of below average rainfall in 2003 and extremely dry conditions in the second half of 2002.

18-month rainfall deficiencies

For the 18-month period from July 2002 to December 2003, rainfall deficiencies are evident in central and southwest Queensland, as well as along the northeast coast and southern Gulf region of that state. Also affected are northern and southeastern areas of NSW, the latter deficiency area extending across Gippsland and south-central Victoria. In WA, long-term rainfall deficiencies are apparent along the west coast between Shark Bay and Onslow, while a few patches in the southern NT have also been deficient in rainfall over this time period.

Lowest on record totals for the eighteen-month period from July to December occurred in a few patches west of Tambo and south of Charleville in Queensland, near Bairnsdale in East Gippsland and near Exmouth in northwest WA.

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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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