Drought Statement Archive

For the 20-month period ending 31st August 2011
Issued on 6th September 2011 by the National Climate Centre

Winter brings no relief to long-term rainfall deficiencies in southwest WA



Rainfall across Australia was mixed during winter 2011. Much of NSW and Victoria recorded below average rainfall over winter. Averaged across the Murray Darling Basin it has been the driest winter since 2002. In contrast, very much above average rainfall was recorded in a large band across southern parts of WA from inland of Geraldton to the SA border, though missing the main areas of rainfall deficiencies.

For the 20-month period from January 2010 to August 2011, rainfall deficiencies remain in place through much of southwestern WA. Much of the region experienced average to below average rainfall over winter. This has maintained areas of long-term rainfall deficiency which remain very similar to those reported in the previous drought statement, with a large area of lowest on record rainfall covering much of the southwest corner, and severe deficiencies over most areas southwest of a Geraldton-Esperance line, except near the south coast from Albany eastwards.

Parts of northern inland NSW, which missed the heaviest of the summer rains, have had below-average rainfall since January, with localised 8-month rainfall deficiencies emerging along a narrow strip extending from Mudgee to Walgett. Furthermore, after the very wet March, rainfall in inland parts of southeastern Australia has also been below average. This continues a trend in recent decades of unusually dry mid-autumn to early-winter conditions to recur in most years (for example Victoria has experienced below average April-July rainfall in 10 of the last 11 years). This is a topic of active research, and climate scientists will be closely monitoring rainfall in this region.

For more information on dry periods over Australia and extreme rain events see the Special Climate Statements issued by the Bureau of Meteorology.


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Note: The terms used to describe rainfall in these Drought Statements have the following meanings -

Serious deficiency - rainfalls in the lowest 10% of historical totals, but not in the lowest 5%
Severe deficiency - rainfalls in the lowest 5% of historical totals
Lowest on record - lowest since at least 1900 when the data analysed begin

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


For more information regarding this rainfall deficiencies statement, please contact the following climate meteorologists in the National Climate Centre:

Glenn Cook (WA) on (08) 9263 2237
Lynette Bettio on (03) 9669 4527
Karl Braganza on (03) 9669 4344

Archive of previous drought statements


External Sites Relating to Drought

The Bureau of Meteorology does not make formal drought declarations as these are done by either the relevant State Governments or by the Australian Government. The Australian Government Program is called Exceptional Circumstances and it is administered by the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). General information about Australian Government drought assistance is available at http://www.daff.gov.au/droughtassist.