Issued on 5 January 2010
Deficiencies ease in northern and eastern Australia; longer-term deficits remain in parts of SE Australia
Heavy rainfall during December 2009 associated with Tropical Cyclone Laurence, as well as other early wet-season activity, reduced the extent of rainfall deficiencies in tropical Australia. Deficiencies at the 12-month timescale persist largely unchanged in central Australia and along the southeast coast, with December rainfall generally average to below average in these regions.
6-month rainfall deficiencies
For the 6-month period from July to December 2009, serious to severe rainfall deficiencies are evident over many parts of eastern Queensland within 300 kilometres of the coast, especially from Bowen southwards, with the strongest deficiencies in the Central Highlands around Emerald. Rainfall in December in this region was mostly fairly close to normal, weakening deficiencies in much of the region. A dry December saw deficiencies intensify somewhat along the southern coast of WA from Esperance to Bremer Bay and appear on parts of the far south coast of NSW.
Rainfall in December, early in the wet season, was near or above normal over most of the Northern Territory, removing most of the deficiencies that had existed for the 5 months to November, although some remain in the Alice Springs district, and locally near the Gulf of Carpentaria coast and in the western Victoria River district. Heavy rains in late December also largely eliminated rainfall deficiencies in central NSW and southern border areas of inland Queensland.
12-month rainfall deficiencies
For the 12-month period from January to December 2009, serious to severe rainfall deficiencies remain evident in a narrow band extending along the coast from southern NSW through Gippsland to south-central Victoria. Deficiencies intensified slightly during the month with a small area of lowest on record rainfall appearing near Bombala. An area of widespread deficits in the southern NT remained in place, although there was some improvement on its southern and western edge as a result of rainfall associated with TC Laurence. The small patch of deficits near the Arnhem Land coast reflects both a poor end to the 2008-09 wet season as well as poor start to the current wet season. There are also some relatively small deficit patches in inland southeast Queensland and southern WA.
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.