Issued 3 May 2005

Rainfall deficiencies develop in eastern & southern Australia

The Bureau of Meteorology announced today that short-term rainfall deficiencies have developed in parts of eastern and southern Australia for the period from January to April (four months). April rainfall was below to very much below average across most of the country, with vast areas registering less than 20% of the long-term average. In many parts of northern and central Australia, no rain fell for the entire month of April, and the Australia-wide average for the first four months of the year was the second lowest on record. The dry conditions further aggravated rainfall deficiencies in central and northwestern parts of the country for the period dating from July 2004 (ten months).

The effects of rainfall deficits have been exacerbated by recent extreme high temperatures.

4-month rainfall deficiencies

For the 4-month period from January to April, serious to severe rainfall deficiencies have developed in parts of Cape York, southern Queensland, northern NSW, parts of southern SA and northern Tasmania. Areas with lowest on record totals for this period are evident in southern Queensland and northern NSW. In central and northwestern Australia, deficiencies overlap with the 10-month period.

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10-month rainfall deficiencies

For the 10-month period from July to April, serious to severe rainfall deficiencies have consolidated in the centre and northwest of the country. A broad band of rainfall deficits now extends across the continent from Port Hedland/Broome in northwest WA, to Bourke in northwestern NSW. This broad region of deficiencies is largely the result of very low wet season rainfall for much of the northern half of the continent. This has been due to both the sporadic nature of the northern monsoon during the 2004-05 wet season, as well as its failure to penetrate far southward. Large areas of lowest on record falls for the 10-month period from July to April are evident in central Australia and near Port Hedland in northwest WA, while small pockets are analysed in northern SA, southwest Queensland and northern NSW.

Click on the map for larger view

Click on the map for larger view
Black and white | High resolution colour

Large regions in southern and eastern Australia continue to experience deficiencies for periods longer than two years indicating that there is still to be a full recovery from the very dry conditions experienced during the 2002-03 El Niño event.

Climate

Service notice

Network problems on 8 January disrupted processing of observations, affecting some climate information. Missing data are being retrieved and will be processed into our systems over coming weeks.