An exceptionally wet September following a wet winter
Rainfall has been above average over most of the country in each month since May 2016; the Northern Territory and every State except Western Australia have had their wettest or second-wettest May–September period on record. As a result, only a few patches in northern Australia are currently experiencing significant rainfall deficiencies over periods of 12 months or less.
September 2016 was a very wet month. Monthly rainfall totals were the highest on record for September across large areas of the Northern Territory, the eastern mainland States, and eastern South Australia. A Special Climate Statement will be issued shortly discussing the exceptionally wet September.
Rainfall for the month was below average for large areas of the western half of Western Australia and some areas of the western Kimberley, and also for an area of southwestern Tasmania.
Soil moisture in the lower layer (from 10 cm to 100 cm deep) remains above average over most of the country.
Soil moisture for September was above average over much of Australia, and near record high for western and central Queensland and across large parts of New South Wales west of the Great Dividing Range.
Soil moisture for the month was generally near average for parts of the Western Australia between the Gascoyne and Eucla and much of the southwest. Lower layer soil moisture was also near average for central southern South Australia, an area of coastal southeast Queensland, and parts of northeast and southwestern Tasmania.
- September was exceptionally wet for much of Australia - a Special Climate Statement will be issued shortly
- Lower layer soil moisture for September was above average over most of Australia
Product code: IDCKGD0AR0
Soil moisture details are reported when there are periods of significant rainfall deficits.
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.
See: Australian Landscape Water Balance.
What is drought?
Drought is a prolonged, abnormally dry period when the amount of available water is insufficient to meet our normal use. Drought is not simply low rainfall; if it was, much of inland Australia would be in almost perpetual drought. Because people use water in so many different ways, there is no universal definition of drought. Meteorologists monitor the extent and severity of drought in terms of rainfall deficiencies. Agriculturalists rate the impact on primary industries, hydrologists compare ground water levels, and sociologists define it by social expectations and perceptions.
It is generally difficult to compare one drought to another, since each drought differs in the seasonality, location, spatial extent and duration of the associated rainfall deficiencies. Additionally, each drought is accompanied by varying temperatures and soil moisture deficits.
Rainfall averages, variability and trends
- Average rainfall: How much rain do you expect?
- Rainfall variability: How consistent is rainfall in your area?
- Rainfall history: Check tables, graphs and data from your local weather station.
- Rainfall trends: Has your rainfall changed?
Lowest on record - lowest since at least 1900 when the data analysed begin.
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.
For the week to 25 October 2016, rainfall was recorded along the south coast of and in the Kimberley district of Western Australia, large parts of the Northern Territory, the northwest pastoral and agricultural districts of South Australia, most of Victoria, eastern New South Wales, Tasmania, and in northwestern, central, southern and eastern parts of Queensland.
At the start of the week, a broad surface trough extended across northern Western Australia and the Top End in the Northern Territory, generating thunderstorms and moderate rainfall totals in parts of the Kimberley, Pilbara, and northern interior of Western Australia, and in the northwestern parts of the Northern Territory. In the south, a cold front brushed the south coast of Western Australia, and intensified as it tracked across South Australia. Widespread light to moderate rainfall totals were recorded across southern Western Australia, South Australia and southern Victoria.
In the middle of the week, an extensive cloudband stretched from the Northern Territory to southeast of Tasmania. Moderate falls were recorded in the pastoral districts, southern and southeastern parts of South Australia, southwestern Victoria, large parts of eastern New South Wales and Tasmania as the cold front tracked across the southeast. Thunderstorms and showers associated with an extensive cloudband were recorded across northern Australia with moderate falls in the Kimberley, the Top End and about Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, and the Gulf Country.
At the end of the period, the trough extending from the low pressure system in the Tasman Sea produced moderate rainfall totals in eastern Victoria and parts of Tasmania. Another trough extending along the east coast of Queensland generated widespread light to moderate falls in central and southern Queensland, and northeastern New South Wales.
Rainfall totals between 50 mm and 100 mm were recorded in small areas in the east and northwest of the Northern Territory; parts of the Kimberley region in Western Australia; pockets of East, West and South Gippsland; southwestern Tasmania and in a small area of northern New South Wales. The highest weekly total was 133 mm at Mount Baw Baw in Victoria.
Rainfall totals between 10 mm and 50 mm were recorded in the far north and along the south coast of Western Australia; the northwest, the east and southern parts of the Northern Territory; an area in the northwest and in the southern and southeastern parts of South Australia; most of Victoria except the central north and northwest and in northwestern Tasmania. Similar totals were recorded in eastern and northeastern New South Wales, and in southern, central, northwestern and parts of eastern Queensland.
Little or no rainfall was recorded in remaining parts of Western Australia; in western and northeastern parts of South Australia; in the southwest, southeast and northeast of the Northern Territory, in southwestern and northern Queensland, western New South Wales and northwestern and northern central Victoria.
Impact of recent rainfall on deficits
Due to above average rainfall in recent months over areas which had experienced deficiencies since mid-2015, no large-scale deficiencies are currently present. Rainfall analyses are available for standard periods out to 48 months.
Product code: IDCKGRWAR0