Issued on 6 April 2011

Wettest March on record but still dry in the southwest

All states and territories recorded above median rainfall in March 2011. Australia as a whole recorded its wettest March on record, as did Queensland and the NT, with many areas receiving highest on record rainfall for the month. Eastern parts of WA also recorded above average rainfall with a large area in the inland east Kimberley receiving highest on record totals for the month. However, the southwest of the state was again below average in March, the tenth driest March on record for the region.

15-month rainfall deficiencies

For the 15-month period from January 2010 to March 2011, average to below average falls over the southwestern corner of WA during March 2011 resulted in areas of rainfall deficiency remaining broadly similar to those reported in the previous drought statement. The amount of rainfall needed, means it is unlikely that deficiencies will be completely removed in coming months. To relieve most areas in southwest WA, i.e. just to get out of the "serious deficiency" (or lowest 10%) category, rainfall for the next three months will have to be in the "above average" category. For parts of the Lower West, Southwest, southern Central Wheat Belt and northern Great Southern, the coming three months rainfall would have to be in the "very much above average" category, i.e. the highest 10% of such periods on record.

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Definitions

Lowest on record - lowest in the historical analysis, which runs from 1900.
Severe deficiency - rainfalls in the lowest 5% of historical totals.
Serious deficiency - rainfalls in the lowest 10% of historical totals, but not in the lowest 5%.

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.

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