Issued on 4 February 2014

Rainfall deficiencies increase in Queensland and adjacent New South Wales and South Australia

January rainfall was below to very much below average across much of northern and western Queensland as well as along the east coast and adjacent inland from Rockhampton to southern Victoria. Much of northern South Australia, southwest Western Australia and parts of Tasmania, southwestern New South Wales and central and northwestern Victoria also received below-average monthly rainfall.

16-month rainfall deficiencies

Rainfall deficits for the 16-month (October 2012 to January 2014) period remain similar to the previous 15-month period, but have increased in severity across Queensland, northeastern South Australia 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 inland Queensland, central northern New South Wales and in a small area 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 16-month period.

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22-month rainfall deficiencies

Rainfall deficiencies for the longer-term 22-month (April 2012 to January 2014) period have also increased in inland eastern Australia. Large patches of serious to severe deficiencies persist across much of Queensland and New South Wales inland of the coastal ranges, northern Victoria, South Australia and the southeast of the Northern Territory as well as over an area between Geraldton and Shark Bay on the west coast of Western Australia. For the 22-month period, most of Queensland and New South Wales inland of the Great Dividing Range as well as much of South Australia have received less than 70% of their long-term average rainfall, with a substantial area having received less than half the average for the period. Meanwhile, rainfall on the Nullarbor Plain during the last month has lessened deficiences there somewhat.

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 across South Australian and the central east.

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Click on the map for larger view
Black and white | High resolution colour

Soil moisture

Soil moisture in the upper soil layer has increased across the Northern Territory, Western Australia away from the west coast and along the coast from around Esperance, in Western Australia, to Port Augusta, in South Australia following recent rain as reflected in an increase in the percentile rank shown in the map. Upper-layer soil moisture is well above average for all of this area, as well as for the tip of the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. Soil moisture remains below average for much of Queensland, though less so than a month ago, and has decreased (further below average) across much of west coast Western Australia, northern South Australia and southwestern Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and the eastern half and southwest of New South Wales.

Lower-layer weekly soil moisture generally shows a similar pattern to that of last month, although increasing between the western Top End and Pilbara (now broadly very much above average) and decreasing (further below average) inland of the east coast in New South Wales and the southern half of Queensland. Soil moisture remains above average for a narrow margin along the coast of South Australia and Victoria, as well as around the Gulf of Carpentaria, in eastern Tasmania, between Esperance and the South Australian border and scattered areas of South Australia and western New South Wales. Soil moisture remains below average for areas of inland northern Queensland, much of the South West Land Division and Central Wheat Belt of Western Australia and large areas of the Interior District.

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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