Issued 5 April 2004

Further relief in far north Queensland, but deficiencies persist in other parts of eastern Australia

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

Rainfall totals of more than 400mm (100% to 300% of average) along the far northeast Queensland coast during March, eased or removed long-term rainfall deficiencies. The region between Ingham and Princess Charlotte Bay has had one to one-and-a-half times the average rainfall so far this northern wet season (since October).

21-month rainfall deficiencies

However, for the 21-month period from July 2002 to March 2004, rainfall deficiencies still persist along parts of the north Queensland coast between Townsville and Rockhampton, and in patches over inland eastern Australia. A larger region persists in the southeast of the mainland and covers Gippsland, central and some of northeast Victoria, together with the southeast quarter of NSW and the ACT. Record low falls for the 21-month July to March period have been registered in a few patches, especially near Bairnsdale in southeast Victoria. These lows falls are notable in that this general region has experienced below normal rainfall for most of the past 8 years.

Because the deficiencies extend over such a long period, they’re likely to take some time to be removed. For example, around Bairnsdale over 400 mm of rain would be required over the next three months just to elevate the rainfall since July 2002 to the tenth percentile (top of decile range 1). Such a total would be near to, or above the record high April to June rainfall for this region!

In WA, long-term rainfall deficiencies are confined to a relatively small patch between Exmouth and Onslow.

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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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