Drought Statement - Issued 5th April 2004


Statement on Drought for the 21-month period ending 31st March 2004
ISSUED 5th April 2004 by the National Climate Centre

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).

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.

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

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