Issued 5 April 2007

Drought persists in western WA, southern SA & from Tasmania to SE Qld

Above average rainfall during March eased the severe dry conditions in parts of alpine Victoria. Dry conditions also eased in parts of northeastern NSW, but for the past twelve months, rainfall deficiencies remain evident in western WA, southern South Australia and across much of Tasmania to southeast Queensland.

12-month rainfall deficiencies

For the 12-month period from April 2006 to March 2007, there are serious to severe rainfall deficiencies over southern and eastern Australia in a broad arc extending across southern SA, much of Victoria, much of southern NSW west of the Great Divide (apart from far western areas), and a large part of southeast Queensland. Northern and eastern parts of Tasmania were also affected as was WA west of a line from around Exmouth, inland around 150-250km and south to Bremer Bay. Record low 12-month falls were recorded between Dalby and Goondiwindi in southern Queensland, along much of WAs west coast and Tasmania's north coast, and in small patches from Melbourne to Canberra.

The worst of the deficiencies are likely to remain for some time. For them to be removed by the end of June, for example, falls over the next three months would need to be in the highest 10% of the historical record in many areas.

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In comparison with the situation for the twelve months to February, areas of lowest rainfall on record shrank along and to the northwest of the Australian Alps from Melbourne to Canberra. However, these areas still remain in severe deficiency. Areas of lowest on record and severe deficiency have increased in parts of western WA, particularly around Carnarvon.

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.