Issued on 8 January 2014
Rainfall deficiencies increase in Queensland and northern New South Wales
December rainfall was below to very much below average across most of Queensland and the northern half of New South Wales, as well as for smaller areas of the eastern Top End, southern Western Australia, western Victoria and southeastern Tasmania.
15-month rainfall deficiencies
The distribution of rainfall deficits for the 15-month (October 2012 to December 2013) period remains similar to the previous (14-month) period, but have increased in severity across Queensland and the Upper Western District of New South Wales. Serious to severe deficiencies (lowest 10 % to 5 % of records) are in place across much of Queensland more than 200 km inland of the eastern coast, as well as central northern New South Wales and other small areas surrounding Queensland's Channel Country and on the coast of Western Australia near Shark Bay. Most of Queensland west of the ranges, northern New South Wales, northeastern South Australia and the southeastern Northern Territory has received less than 65 % of the long-term (1961–1990) average rainfall for the 15-month period.
21-month rainfall deficiencies
The longer-term rainfall deficiencies for the 21-month (April 2012 to December 2013) period have also increased in severity in inland Queensland and northern New South Wales. Elsewhere, deficiencies across southern New South Wales, northern Victoria, South Australia and the southeast of the Northern Territory also persist and are generally similar to those for the previous 20-month period. Patchy rainfall deficiencies cover much of these areas away from the coast and hinterlands, as well as an area between Geraldton and Shark Bay on the west coast of Western Australia. For the 21-month period, most of Queensland inland of the eastern coastal ranges and the Gulf Country as well as northern New South Wales and northeastern South Australia have received less than 60 % of their long-term average rainfall for the period.
Significant areas of eastern Australia, South Australia and the southeastern Northern Territory continue to see rainfall deficiencies over shorter periods (3 to 6 months), especially in the inland east.
Soil moisture in the upper soil layer has increased in central Australia and is now above average for the northwest of the Northern Territory and the Kimberley, extending through part of central Australia to the area around the intersection of the borders of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. Conversely, soil moisture has dramatically decreased across most of Queensland and is very much below average to near record low for most of that State and northern New South Wales, as well as being (less significantly) below average for much of southern Victoria and adjacent southeastern South Australia, Tasmania, the South West Land Division of Western Australia and along the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
In the lower layer, weekly soil moisture generally shows a similar pattern to that of last month, although increasing to above average in the coastal northwest and parts of the tropical north. Soil moisture is above average along the northwestern coast between the eastern Pilbara and western Top End as well as in a band just inland of the eastern coast of northern and central Queensland. Soil moisture is below average for part of the eastern Top End and in a band extending from around Normanton in the Queensland Gulf, becoming thicker through eastern New South Wales and also covering much of Victoria. Soil moisture is very much below average for the South West Land Division and Central Wheat Belt of Western Australia and large areas of the Interior District and coastal Nullarbor.