Issued on 7 August 2009

Long-term rainfall deficiencies persist; some relief to short-term deficits over parts of southern Australia

Parts of southern Australia recorded above average rainfall during July 2009, particularly near the coast. Elsewhere, rainfall was generally below the long-term mean, with large areas of Queensland experiencing very much below average rainfall. Average to above average July rainfall over western Victoria and southeast SA has relieved most of the short-term deficits that existed in the 6-month period ending June 2009. However, longer-term deficits remain in these regions.

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

7-month rainfall deficiencies

For the 7-month period from January to July 2009, serious to severe rainfall deficiencies remain evident over most of central and eastern Victoria. A few very isolated areas of serious to severe deficiencies also remain evident across central Australia and along the far south coast of NSW. Victoria has now experienced its fourth direst January to July period on record, with several stations near Melbourne and in Gippsland recording lowest on record rainfall for the period. However, as mentioned in the introduction, good July rainfall over western Victoria and southeast SA has relieved most of the short-term rainfall deficits that existed in the 6-month period ending June 2009.

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24-month rainfall deficiencies

For the 24-month period from August 2007 to July 2009, serious to severe rainfall deficiencies remain evident across much of southeast Australia and parts of central Australia. These regions experienced some average to above average rainfall during the final months of both 2007 and 2008, as well as through the most recent autumn. However, most months through the period were drier than the long-term mean, especially during the growing seasons. Both 2007 and 2008 were classified as positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) years, which is likely to have contributed partly to the low winter and spring rainfall recorded across parts of southern Australia during both these years.

Very long-term rainfall deficiencies outside of the drought periods discussed above persist across parts of southern and eastern Australia. Most notably, rainfall has been below average across much of southwest and southeast Australia since 1997, while the Murray-Darling Basin has experienced below average rainfall since 2002.

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Climate

Service notice

Network problems on 8 January disrupted processing of observations, affecting some climate information. Missing data are being retrieved and will be processed into our systems over coming weeks.