No Drought Statement issued for February
January rainfall was above to very much above average for Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia. Monthly rainfall was also above average for western Queensland and areas in a band across the south of the Cape York Peninsula, and for western Victoria and an adjacent area of southwestern New South Wales.
January rainfall was below average along and east of the Great Dividing Range in southeastern Australia, extending from areas north of Melbourne and across Gippsland in Victoria, through eastern New South Wales to the Hunter and Central Tablelands, and also below average for scattered areas of southeast Queensland and locations in the far southwest of Western Australia.
Rainfall has been below average in areas east of the Great Divide in recent months, accompanied by very much above average temperatures. As a result areas of serious to locally severe deficiency have emerged at three- to four-month timescales in southeast Queensland, and pockets of coastal New South Wales and east coastal Victoria. These areas of rainfall deficiencies will continue to be monitored for further developments. The latest Climate Outlook suggests that rainfall is likely to be below average in the next three months.
Soil moisture in the lower layer (from 10 cm to 100 cm deep) has increased across northern and eastern Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia, and much of northern Queensland following very much above average rainfall during January. Lower layer soil moisture remains above average for most of Tasmania.
Soil moisture for the month was below average for southeastern Queensland, most of coastal New South Wales, and isolated pockets of Victoria's eastern coast.
- January rainfall was very much above average for Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia
- January rainfall was below average along east of the Great Dividing Range in Victoria and southeastern New South Wales, as well as other patches of New South Wales and southeastern Queensland
- Areas of rainfall deficiencies persist at three-month and four-month timescales in southeast Queensland and pockets of coastal New South Wales.
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 21 February 2017, rainfall was recorded in northern, western and eastern Australia. Tropical cyclone Alfred in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria brought over 900 mm of rainfall.
An active monsoon trough produced moderate to heavy falls across northern Australia during the week.
At the start of the week, the monsoon trough extended from a weak tropical low in the Kimberley in Western Australia, across the Northern Territory to another tropical low near the Gulf of Carpentaria. Extensive areas of rain and thunderstorm activity developed over the tropics. A surface trough over the interior of Queensland combined with an upper level disturbance and produced moderate falls in central and northern Queensland.
Another surface trough extended from a low in the northwest through central parts of Western Australia, and produced thunderstorms and showers in the Pilbara, Gascoyne and northern Goldfields districts in Western Australia.
The tropical low in the Gulf of Carpentaria intensified into tropical cyclone Alfred. The tropical cyclone tracked slowly southwards and remained slow-moving, while producing moderate to heavy falls in the Gulf Country. The system weakened in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria between Borroloola and the Queensland–Northern Territory border. The highest weekly total was 921 mm at Sweers Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
At the middle to end of the week, a trough extended from central Australia to southeast New South Wales, and moved slowly eastwards. Thunderstorms and showers produced moderate falls in northeastern New South Wales and southeastern Queensland. A cold front and a low pressure system produced light to moderate falls in southeastern South Australia, southern Victoria and western Tasmania.
Rainfall totals between 100 mm and 200 mm were recorded in areas of the western Gascoyne, Pilbara, and Kimberley districts in Western Australia; parts of the central Top End, the Gulf Country and in the north tropical coast of Queensland. Weekly totals in excess of 400 mm were recorded in the south Gulf of Carpentaria as a result of Alfred. The highest weekly total was 921 mm at Sweers Island in Queensland.
Rainfall totals between 50 mm and 100 mm were recorded across much of the Kimberley, and western parts of the Pilbara and Gascoyne in Western Australia; much of the Top End in the Northern Territory; parts of Cape York Peninsula, and pockets of central, southern and eastern Queensland, and northeastern New South Wales. A small part of western Tasmania recorded similar totals.
Rainfall totals between 10 mm and 50 mm were recorded in much of the Gascoyne, Pilbara, Goldfields and Kimberley districts in Western Australia, the northern half of the Northern Territory, northern and eastern Queensland, eastern and northeastern New South Wales, southern Victoria and western Tasmania.
Little or no rainfall was recorded in eastern and southern Western Australia, South Australia, eastern Tasmania, northern and northwestern Victoria, western New South Wales, western Queensland and the southern half of the Northern Territory.
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