Soil moisture data is from the Bureau's Australian Water Resources Assessment Landscape (AWRA-L) model, developed through the Water Information Research and Development Alliance between the Bureau and CSIRO.

Short-term rainfall deficiencies increase in southeastern Australia

Rainfall for April was below to very much below average across Victoria, New South Wales, eastern South Australia, most of Tasmania, the South West Land Division and south coast in Western Australia, and for large areas of southeastern, far northern, and central inland Queensland. Rainfall was the lowest on record for the month at a number of stations in Victoria, and New South Wales. For southern Australia as a whole, rainfall was the third-lowest on record for April.

The first quarter of 2018 has been marked by an extended period of particularly dry weather for much of mainland southeastern Australia. January to April was the seventh-driest such period for southeastern Australia as a whole. The spatial extent and severity of rainfall deficiencies affecting the southeast has increased compared to the preceding 3-month period, and we are now tracking the four-month period starting in January 2018 (see below). We will also continue to monitor deficiencies at a range of short timescales, as the southern wet season progresses (the southern wet season spans April to November).

Compared to the previous Drought Statement, deficiencies at longer timescales have increased in inland Queensland, the New South Wales central coast and inland eastern areas, Gippsland in Victoria, eastern Tasmania, and along the west coast of Western Australia.

4-month rainfall deficiencies

A particularly dry April across western and southern New South Wales, and the Central District and Gippsland in Victoria has increased rainfall deficiencies across the mainland southeast.

Serious to severe rainfall deficiencies are in place across most of Victoria except the northeast, most of southeastern and agricultural South Australia south and east of Port Augusta, and large areas of New South Wales in west, western Riverina, North West Slopes and Plains, and inland northeast. Scattered pockets of serious or severe deficiencies extend into southwestern Queensland, about Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre in South Australia, and about Shark Bay on the west coast of Western Australia.

13-month rainfall deficiencies

Compared to the 12-month period discussed in the previous Drought Statement, rainfall deficiencies have increased in all affected States.

Serious to severe rainfall deficiencies remain across a large area of eastern to central New South Wales extending along the coast from around Batemans Bay to around New Castle and reaching well inland into the Tablelands and Central West Slopes and Plains; large areas of central and southern to southwestern Queensland; and scattered areas of northern and western New South Wales, western Queensland, and pastoral South Australia between Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre and the coast about Ceduna and Gulf St Vincent.

Serious or severe deficiencies were also present across much of Gippsland in eastern Victoria, along the east coast of Tasmania, and in a broad strip along the west coast of Western Australia between about Karratha and the northern South West Land Division, as well as small areas in the Southwest District.


Soil moisture

Soil moisture in the lower layer (from 10 cm to 100 cm deep) for April decreased over most of Australia. Soil moisture increased over parts of northern inland Queensland.

Lower-layer soil moisture was above average across much of northern and western Queensland, adjacent parts of the Northern Territory, parts of eastern Western Australia, and parts of Tasmania.

Soil moisture was below average for most of most of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, much of the west of Western Australia, and large parts of the Northern Territory away from the southeast.

  • April rainfall was below average for large areas of southern Australia
  • Total rainfall for Australia was the the eighth-lowest on record for April
  • Exceptionally warm weather during April exacerbated the effect of low rainfall
  • The very dry start to the year for the mainland southeast has continued, with deficiencies evident at the 4-month timescale
  • Rainfall deficiencies have increased slightly in both the east and west of the country at the 13-month timescale
  • Lower-layer soil moisture was below average for April across eastern South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria

Product code: IDCKGD0AR0

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