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 18 October 2016, rainfall was recorded in the northwestern Top End, the east coast of Queensland, eastern to central New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, southern parts of South Australia and southwest Western Australia.
At the start of the week, a cold front embedded in a westerly airstream tracked across Tasmania and Victoria. Moderate falls were recorded in western Tasmania, and light falls were reported across much of Victoria and southeastern New South Wales.
From the middle of the week, a number of weak cold fronts tracked across southwest Western Australia, while a cloudband associated with a pre-frontal trough developed and extended from the northwest of the continent to western Tasmania. Moderate falls were recorded in southwest Western Australia, along the southern coastline of South Australia, and in southwestern Tasmania. As this cloudband continued to track across South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania, another cloudband associated with the next cold front tracked from the eastern Bight and across the southeast at the end of the week. Between them, the cloudbands generated moderate falls across large parts of southeastern Australia at the end of the period.
A band of thunderstorms moved across southern Queensland and eastern New South Wales at the end of the week, associated with the first of the two cloudbands, generating moderate falls in southeast Queensland and northeastern New South Wales.
During the week, a moist onshore flow onto the east coast of Queensland and northern New South Wales produced moderate falls about the north tropical coast of Queensland and the mid-north coast of New South Wales.
A few showers and storms brought rainfall around Darwin in the Top End at the start of the week, and light falls across a larger area of the Top End at the end of the week.
Rainfall totals between 50 mm and 100 mm were recorded in western Tasmania, pockets of the Snowy Mountains and Victorian Alps, the Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia, and pockets of the north tropical coast of Queensland. The highest weekly total was 121 mm at Mount Read in Tasmania.
Rainfall totals between 10 mm and 50 mm were recorded in southwest Western Australia, in southeastern South Australia and about the Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas, across most of Victoria except the Mallee and central north, and all of Tasmania apart from the northeast coast. Similar totals were recorded from central New South Wales to the centre of the Great Dividing Range and across northeastern New South Wales, along much of east coast of Queensland south of Cooktown, and in the Darwin–Daly region in the Top End of the Northern Territory.
Little or no rainfall was recorded in Western Australia except the southwest and southern coasts, most of the Northern Territory away from the Top End, northern, western and central Queensland, central and western New South Wales and the northeast coast of Tasmania.
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