Drought Statement - Issued 4th January 2007


Statement on Drought for the 5 and 12-month periods ending 31st December 2006

Driest year on record in parts of southern Australia

December rainfall totals were generally below average across the drought-affected parts of eastern and southern Australia, with rainfall deficits therefore remaining widespread over Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and southern Queensland. It was the driest year on record (back to 1900) across parts of the south, most notably in northern and parts of eastern Tasmania, northeast Victoria and adjacent parts of southern NSW and the ACT.

The period from August to December was especially warm and dry across the southern half of the country. Averaged over the Murray-Darling Basin it was the driest such period on record as well as being the second warmest, with much of the central-west and southwest slopes of NSW having mean maximum temperatures more than 3°C above the long-term average. SA and Victoria had their second driest August to December period, while in area-average terms it was the warmest last five months of the year for the country as a whole, as well as for WA, SA and Victoria.

A poor start to the northern wet season has also caused short-term rainfall deficiencies to develop across some parts of tropical Australia.

For the 5-month period from August to December, generally severe rainfall deficiencies covered most of SA apart from the northeast quarter, all of Victoria, northern and eastern Tasmania, most of NSW west of a line from Bega to Tamworth to Bourke, southern inland Queensland, parts of northwest and northern Queensland, areas in the northern NT and the coastal zone between Albany and Esperance in southern WA. Record low falls were widely scattered about all these areas.

For the 2006 calendar year, serious to severe rainfall deficiencies affected a large part of southeast Queensland centred on about Charleville, much of the southern half of NSW west of the ranges, Victoria (apart from far East Gippsland), northern and eastern Tasmania, southeastern SA and a coastal strip in WA from Carnarvon to Albany. In addition, areas near Bourke and from Alice Springs to south of Tarcoola also have deficiencies for this period. Record low falls are analysed along Tasmania’s north coast as well as in parts of the southeast of that State. Records were also broken in the mountainous regions of northeast Victoria and southeast NSW extending into parts of the southwest slopes, central tablelands and central-west, on the SA/Victoria border near Bordertown and in a few patches along the southwest coast of WA. It was also the driest year on record in a small region just to the south of Oodnadatta.

The deficiencies discussed above have occurred against a backdrop of multi-year rainfall deficits that have severely stressed water supplies in the east and southwest of the country.

Rainfall deficiency maps for standard periods out to three years are available.

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
Blair Trewin on (03) 9669 4623
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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Click on the map for full resolution.
A black and white version is also available.

Click on the map for full resolution.
Click on the map for full resolution.
A black and white version is also available.