Drought Statement - Issued 2nd March 2004


Statement on Drought for the 20-month period ending 29th February 2004
ISSUED 2nd March 2004 by the National Climate Centre

Some relief in far north Queensland

The Bureau of Meteorology announced today that heavy monsoon rain during February, removed or significantly eased, long-term (since mid-2002) rainfall deficiencies along the northeast Queensland coast. Nevertheless, rainfall deficits remain in patches through inland eastern Australia, in the southeast of the mainland and in northwest WA.

Rainfall totals of more than 400mm (100% to 200% of average) along the far northeast Queensland coast during February, eased or removed long-term rainfall deficiencies. This was particularly the case near Cairns and in areas north of Princess Charlotte Bay.

However, for the 20-month period from July 2002 to February 2004, rainfall deficiencies still persist along parts of north Queensland’s Pacific coast, and in patches over inland eastern Australia (see map inset). The largest such region, which is near and to the west of a line joining Charleville in southern Queensland and Bourke in northern NSW, endured exceptional heatwave conditions during February.

Also affected is an area of the southeast mainland that includes patches of the Central Tablelands, Southwest Slopes and Plains, Southern Tablelands, and South Coast and Illawarra districts in NSW, together with most of Gippsland and the Central district in Victoria. Record low falls for the 20-month July to February period have been registered near Bairnsdale in southeast Victoria. In WA, long-term rainfall deficiencies are confined to a relatively small patch between Exmouth and Dampier.

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 -

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

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

Grant Beard on (03) 9669 4527
David Jones on (03) 9669 4085
Mike Coughlan on (03) 9669 4086

Click on the map for full resolution.
Click on the map for full resolution.
A black and white version is also available.