Issued 3 March 2005

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 5°C above the long-term average. Paraburdoo was the hottest place in the country - maximum temperatures averaged 43.3°C 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.

8-month rainfall deficiencies

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.

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