Drought Statement - Issued 5th February 2007


drought_text.html

Statement on Drought for the 4 and 13-month periods ending 31st January 2007

Heavy rain eases drought, but deficits remain

During January, rain of tropical origin extended heavy falls across central and parts of eastern and southern Australia. These were sufficient to remove short to medium-term rainfall deficiencies, but much of Queensland, NSW, Victoria and northern Tasmania remain affected by severe deficits. In addition, a few regions in northern Australia have had a poor start to their wet season, with serious short-term deficiencies having developed in patches of the northern NT, Cape York Peninsula and southeast Queensland.

For the 13-month period from January 2006 to January 2007, serious to severe rainfall deficiencies affected a large part of southeast Queensland centred on about Charleville, much of the southern half of NSW, Victoria, northern and eastern Tasmania, southeastern SA and a coastal strip in WA from Carnarvon to Albany. Record low falls occurred along Tasmania’s north coast as well as in parts of the east of that State. It was also the driest such period on record in the mountainous regions of northeast Victoria and southeast NSW extending into parts of the southwest slopes, central tablelands and central-west, and in a few patches along the southwest coast of WA.

The worst of the deficiencies are likely to remain for some time. For example, if they were to be removed by the end of April, falls over the next three months would need to be in the highest 10% of the historical record over many areas, or at record high levels in some instances. A similar situation exists even if we consider six-month falls (Feb-July).

In comparison with the situation at the end of December, deficits were eased or removed in the southern NT, central and parts of eastern SA, the far west of both Queensland and New South Wales, and western Victoria. However, below average January totals resulted in deficiencies expanding across far East Gippsland and the southern and central NSW coasts.

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.

For the 4-month period from October to January, serious deficiencies have developed across Cape York Peninsula between Cooktown and Weipa, as well as in a few patches of the northern NT near Roper River and Victoria River Downs. Furthermore, severe short-term deficits have emerged in the coastal zone between St Lawrence and Brisbane as well as over the Darling Downs, with record low falls for the period near Goondiwindi.

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
Lyn Bettio on (03) 9669 4165

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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A black and white version is also available.