Issued on 4th September 2012 by the National Climate Centre
Recent dry conditions in Western Australia and South Australia have exacerbated existing rainfall deficiencies.
August rainfall was below average across most of Australia, with the area-average some 56% below average, ranking as the 5th-driest August since comparable records commenced in 1900 (see August rainfall deciles). Most of Tasmania, Victoria, and southeastern South Australia recorded near-average monthly totals. The tropical north is seasonally dry at this time of the year, but some areas experienced light falls. For Western Australia August rainfall was well below average, being the driest August since 1995.
Following on from the driest July on record for the southwest of Western Australia (southwest of a line from Jurien Bay to Bremer Bay), and third-driest July for Western Australia as a whole, below average August rainfall in South Australia and southern Western Australia has led to a significant increase in the area experiencing severe rainfall deficiencies. Much of southern Western Australia and the Interior district, as well as northwest South Australia have experienced 5-month (April to August 2012) rainfall in the lowest 5% of records. The area of southwest Western Australia experiencing long-term rainfall deficiencies for periods of two years and longer increased again during August, as it has now for several months (compare to the 36-month period ending July, and ending June). The southwest region had its driest year on record in 2010, and the two-year period 2010–2011 was the driest on record in some parts of southwest Western Australia. Rainfall for the 3- and 4-year periods ending August 2012 has also been the lowest on record for the southwest. Short-term (3 month) rainfall deficiencies for the region covering northern South Australia and central Australia remain similar to last month; however, May to September is the driest part of the year in most of this region.
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For more information regarding this rainfall deficiencies statement, please contact the following climatologists:
Glenn Cook (WA) (08) 9263 2222
Darren Ray (SA) (08) 8366 2664
Blair Trewin (National) (03) 9669 4623
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.