Issued on 5 February 2010

Wet-season rainfall eases deficits in northern and central Australia; deficits remain in parts of southeast Australia, southwest WA and southeast Queensland

Widespread wet-season rainfall during January 2010 across most of Queensland and the NT has removed rainfall deficits in central Australia and northeastern Queensland. In contrast, a drier than normal January for the far southeast of Queensland and southwest WA has intensified existing rainfall deficits in these regions. Longer-term deficits remain over the far southeast of the continent, along the south coast of NSW and the southeast coast of Victoria.

7-month rainfall deficiencies

For the 7-month period from July 2009 to January 2010, serious to severe rainfall deficiencies remain evident over much of southeast Queensland, the south coast of WA between Esperance and Albany, and the far south coast of NSW. As mentioned in the introduction, above to very much above average rainfall over northern Queensland and most of the NT in January was enough to remove most of the deficiencies that had existed in central Australia and northeastern Queensland when compared with the 6-month period ending December 2009. Through the same period, drier than normal January conditions in southeast Queensland and southwest WA has caused an intensification of existing rainfall deficits in these regions.

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13-month rainfall deficiencies

For the 13-month period from January 2009 to January 2010, serious to severe rainfall deficiencies remain evident over the south coast of NSW and the adjoining southeast coast of Victoria. Serious to severe rainfall deficiencies also remain evident over parts of southeast Queensland and in a small region of southern WA. As for the 7-month drought period, a drier than normal January for much of southern and eastern Australia has caused an intensification of deficits over inland southeast Queensland and southwest WA. A drier then normal January in southern Australia has also seen the emergence of a small area of rainfall deficits in the Riverina district in NSW. In contrast, as for the shorter 7-month drought period, an area of widespread deficits that existed in the southern NT in the 12 months ending December 2009 was also removed by heavy rainfall during January.

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.