Issued 2 June 2005

Rainfall deficiencies spread as autumn rains fail

The Bureau of Meteorology announced today that a failure of the autumn rains in southern Australia (except WA), has resulted in widespread short-term rainfall deficiencies over SA, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. In terms of state-wide averages dating from 1900, it was the driest autumn on record in Victoria and SA, the second driest over NSW and the fourth driest in Tasmania. For the period dating from 1st January, rainfall deficiencies are also evident over much of southern Queensland, the south of the NT and central and northern WA.

This most recent period of rainfall deficits is set against a backdrop of average to below average falls since the severe drought of 2002-03. There has been no prolonged period of widespread above average falls to fully remove rainfall deficiencies. As far as the Murray-Darling Basin is concerned, Bureau rainfall data indicate that this region is in the midst of its worst multi-year period of rainfall deficiencies since the 1940s. Furthermore, the effects of rainfall deficits have been exacerbated by some of the highest temperatures on record.

3-month rainfall deficiencies

For the 3-month period from March to May, rainfall deficiencies cover most of SA, Victoria, and Tasmania, and much of NSW west of the Dividing Range. Lowest on record falls are widespread over Victoria and the southern fringes of SA, while large patches are evident in central and far western NSW.

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5-month rainfall deficiencies

For the 5-month period from January to May, additional areas of rainfall deficits are situated over southern parts of Queensland and the NT, as well as across central and northwest WA, including some large areas that have recorded their driest such period on record.

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11-month rainfall deficiencies

For the 11-month period dating from July 2004, rainfall deficiencies are widespread over central and northwestern Australia, with a large area covering the southern NT and far eastern WA having had its driest such period on record.

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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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