Issued on 5 February 2013

Rainfall deficiencies expand in southern Australia, but ease along the east coast

6-month rainfall deficiencies

Severe rainfall deficiencies for the 6 month (August 2012 to January 2013) period have expanded in central Australia and in large parts of the inland southeast of Australia following below average January rainfall. Severe deficiencies now cover most of South Australia (where August to January rainfall was the lowest on record), large areas of western New South Wales and Victoria, and the southwest corner of the Northern Territory.

Temperatures during this 6 month period have also been unusually hot, which is likely to have exacerbated the impact of the below average rainfall. The Australian mean maximum temperature was a record +1.70 °C above average over this period, some 0.21 °C hotter than the previous record set over the same period in 2009/2010.

Heavy rainfall associated with ex-tropical cyclone Oswald eased rainfall deficiencies along the coast of Queensland, but pockets of serious to severe deficiency have emerged over areas inland of the Great Dividing Range. Severe rainfall deficiencies continue in southwest Queensland, as do deficiencies in patches along the north coast of the Northern Territory.

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10-month rainfall deficiencies

Rainfall deficiencies for the 10-month (April 2012 to January 2013) period have expanded over South Australia; an area of lowest on record stretches across much of the pastoral districts and into eastern Western Australia. Areas of severe deficiency have also expanded into western and central New South Wales and Victoria, including the Riverland.

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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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