Drought Statement - Issued 3rd March 2005


Statement on Drought for the 8-month period ending 28th February 2005
ISSUED 3rd March 2005 by the National Climate Centre

Rainfall deficiencies intensify in northwest and central Australia

The Bureau of Meteorology announced today that rainfall deficiencies intensified and spread in northwest and central Australia, as a result of below to very much below average February rainfall. What essentially amounts to a failure of the monsoon in these areas, has been accompanied by unusually high temperatures, particularly during January and February. Many of the areas affected by rainfall deficiencies recorded a mean maximum temperature for February that was 3 to 5C above the long-term average. Paraburdoo was the hottest place in the country - maximum temperatures averaged 43.3C there for the month of February. And the summer (Dec-Feb) mean maximum temperatures in the Pilbara were among the highest on record in Australia.

For the 8-month period from July to February, a large area of severe rainfall deficiencies straddles the WA/NT border with a broad zone spreading to the southeast over Alice Springs to the northeast corner of South Australia. Lowest on record falls have occurred in a large region north of Giles and in a small area close to Alice Springs. Patches of rainfall deficits are also evident in far southwest Queensland and the far northwest of NSW.

There was also continued expansion and intensification of deficiencies in the Pilbara in WA, with lowest on record falls evident near and to the southeast of Port Hedland. Above average falls largely removed the small patch of serious deficiencies that existed in northeast Tasmania at the end of January.

Large regions in southern and eastern Australia continue to experience deficiencies for periods longer than two years and only a prolonged period of above average rainfall will remove them.

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

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