Drought Statement - Issued 4th September 2006


Statement on Drought for the 3 and 6-month periods ending 31st August 2006

Rainfall deficiencies spread following record dry August

Averaged across Australia, August 2006 was the driest August in the historical record from 1900, as well as being the warmest since high-quality monthly temperature records began in 1950. As a result, rainfall deficiencies expanded over southern Australia with record low winter falls over a large part of southern WA and parts of southeastern Australia. Deficits dating from the start of autumn intensified across the southeast, including Tasmania.

For the 3-month period from June to August (winter), generally severe rainfall deficiencies covered most of the area south of a line from Exmouth (WA) to Eucla (WA) to Port Augusta (SA) to Albury (NSW) to Canberra (ACT) to Sale (Vic), as well as northern, central and eastern Tasmania. Record low winter totals occurred over an extensive area within the Perth/Esperance/Exmouth triangle, as well as in smaller patches in southeast SA, southern and western Victoria, and northern and southeast Tasmania. Multi-year rainfall deficits in the southeast, have been exacerbated by the most recent period of suppressed rainfall.

For the 6-month period from March to August (autumn-winter), serious to severe rainfall deficiencies extend in a band from southeast SA to central Victoria to the central-west of NSW, where record low falls have occurred. An area near Albury and another region on the SA/Vic border have also had their driest autumn-winter on record. The zone from north of Carnarvon to Albany in western WA is also affected, with areas of lowest on record falls along the coast. August rainfall in southwest WA was sufficient to ease the deficits, with much less of the area having record low rainfall than was evident at the end of July.

Deficits expanded over Tasmania for this period, with record low falls on the north coast, but there was little change to the pattern of deficiencies in southeast Queensland.

Deficiencies for the period dating from January will no longer be monitored as they are essentially covered by the three and six month periods.

Rainfall deficiency maps for longer periods indicate that deficiencies at the three year timescale, which are particularly relevant to water supplies, remain prevalent in parts of eastern Australia, especially in Queensland.

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

External Sites Relating to Drought

The Bureau of Meteorology does not make formal drought declarations as these are done by either the relevant State Governments or by the Australian Government. The Australian Government Program is called Exceptional Circumstances and it is administered by the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). General information about Australian Government drought assistance is available at http://www.daff.gov.au/droughtassist.

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