Weekly Rainfall Update

For the week to 21 January 2020, rainfall was recorded in the west, north, and east of Australia. Little to no rainfall was recorded in South Australia away from the southeast, and through Central Australia.

In the first half of the week, broad low pressure troughs extended along the west, north, and east of Australia. Showers and thunderstorms brought moderate falls to the Pilbara, Gascoyne, Goldfields, Kimberley, and northwest coast of Western Australia; and the Top End in the Northern Territory.

A surface trough extending across eastern Australia interacted with an upper-level trough and brought enhanced shower activity and thunderstorms through northern, central, and southern Queensland, and from central to eastern New South Wales. Showers and moderate falls were also recorded in southern central Victoria, and inland southern Tasmania.

Another surface trough developed near the northeast New South Wales coast, extending north into southeastern Queensland in the middle of the week. Showers and thunderstorms produced widespread moderate falls, with locally heavier falls around far southeastern Queensland and far northeastern New South Wales.

In the last part of the week, a low pressure system developed over western New South Wales and northern Victoria, with a trough along the New South Wales coast. The low deepened and moved eastward across  eastern New South Wales and Victoria, passing over the Tasman Sea, with showers and thunderstorms producing moderate to locally heavy falls in southern inland New South Wales, and central to eastern Victoria. Severe thunderstorms produced large hail, damaging winds and heavy rainfall in some areas in the southeast, including in Melbourne and Canberra.

Isolated convection continued across the northwest and north of the country during the rest of the week, with a westerly wind surge over northern Australia bringing increased showers and thunderstorms in the Kimberley and north of Northern Territory at the end of the week.

Rainfall totals in excess of 200 mm were recorded in northeastern New South Wales and southeast Queensland, including the highest weekly total of 373 mm at Miami Bardon Avenue in the Gold Coast in southeast Queensland.

Rainfall totals in excess of 100 mm were recorded in southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales; in isolated areas in eastern Victoria; the north Kimberley coast in Western Australia; parts of the Top End in the Northern Territory, and isolated spots in Queensland's inland south.

Rainfall totals in excess of 50 mm were recorded in the east Pilbara and Gascoyne in Western Australia; large parts of the Top End in the Northern Territory; parts of northern, central and southern Queensland; parts of eastern New South Wales; and eastern Victoria.

Rainfall totals between 10 mm and 50 mm were recorded in a broad area of Western Australia from the Kimberley, through the Pilbara, down to the Goldfields and Southeast Coastal districts; the northern half of the Northern Territory; most of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria except the far west of those States; southern Tasmania; and southeastern South Australia.

Impact of recent rainfall on deficits

Rainfall deficits over Australia for the 5-month (August–December 2019), 12-month (January–December 2019) and 21-month (April 2018–December 2019) periods are discussed in the Drought Statement, issued on 7 January 2020.

Rainfall deficit maps are available for these periods as well as for standard periods. The maps below show the percentage of mean rainfall that has been received for the rainfall deficit period for the 5-month, 12-month and 21-month periods, extended to the week ending 21 January 2020.

Rainfall for the period 1 August 2019 to 21 January 2020

Areas of rainfall deficiency at the five-month timescale, including areas of lowest on record, affect much of northeastern New South Wales and southeastern Queensland, a large area in central Queensland inland of Townsville, northern parts of the Northern Territory and a large area in western South Australia. Serious to severe rainfall deficiencies extend across many parts of Australia including much of New South Wales; across northern Victoria and East Gippsland; across much of Queensland excluding the southwest and very northern parts; northern Tasmania; South Australia; southern and eastern parts of Western Australia; and large parts of the Northern Territory.

Rainfall during the past week have slightly eased deficiencies in parts of the Southern Interior District in Western Australia, parts of northern Victoria, southeastern and northeastern New South Wales, southeast Queensland and areas in northern Queensland and the Top End in the Northern Territory.

Affected areas of New South Wales, Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia have mostly received less than 40% of average rainfall for the period. Affected areas of Victoria, Tasmania, and Western Australia (except the interior) have mostly received between 40% and 70% of average rainfall for the period, dropping to less than 40% in the northern South West Land Division in Western Australia.

Rainfall for the period 1 January 2019 to 21 January 2020

In New South Wales, severe rainfall deficiencies and areas of lowest on record rainfall extend across most of the North West Slopes and Northern Tablelands, along with coastal areas from the Hunter northwards. Areas of serious to locally severe deficiencies also exist across the South Coast of New South Wales, and between the New South Wales Tablelands and the Central District in Victoria, as well as in inland to coastal central Gippsland. In Queensland, severe to lowest on record rainfall deficiencies affect the greater southeast, with serious to severe deficiencies affecting the eastern Maranoa, and the Capricornia District. In some areas, particularly in the Northern Tablelands and North West Slopes and Plains in New South Wales and the Southern Downs in Queensland, rainfall for January–December 2019 is more than 30% below previous record lows.

Severe rainfall deficiencies and areas of lowest rainfall on record are also evident across much of central and southern parts of the Northern Territory away from the Queensland border; most of South Australia except parts of the southeast, western Eyre Peninsula, and far northeast; across western New South Wales; and central eastern Western Australia. Serious to severe deficiencies are evident in the Mallee and parts of eastern Victoria; eastern Tasmania; and in Western Australia over most of the central region, nearly all areas along the south coast and most of the Southwest Land Division, and parts of the Pilbara and Kimberley.

Rainfall during the past week eased rainfall deficiencies slightly in affected areas along parts of the east coast of Australia.

Affected areas of northeastern and western New South Wales and southeastern Queensland have generally received less than 50% of average rainfall for the period, dropping to less than 30% of average for some areas along the border and in the Northwest Slopes and Plains District in New South Wales.

Affected areas of the South West Land Division and Kimberley in Western Australia have mostly received between 50% and 80% of average rainfall, while affected areas in agricultural South Australia, and the scattered areas affected in southeastern New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania have mostly received at least 60% of average rainfall.

Through Australia's interior, areas affected by serious of severe rainfall deficiencies in pastoral South Australia, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia's southeast, and northwest have largely received less than 40% of average.

Rainfall for the period 1 April 2018 to 21 January 2020

Serious to severe rainfall deficiencies are in place for the 21-month period across much of the northern half of Western Australia, except parts of the inland Kimberley, the central and southwestern Pilbara, and northeastern Gascoyne; across much of the South West Land Division in Western Australia; much of the Northern Territory except parts of the eastern border; much of South Australia; southern and southeastern Queensland, extending across much of the Central Highlands and Capricornia districts; most of New South Wales; across northern Victoria and most of the eastern half of that State except parts of West and South Gippsland; and eastern Tasmania.

Much of eastern New South Wales, especially the northeast, has had record low rainfall for the 21-month period, as have parts of adjacent southern Queensland, areas of western New South Wales to eastern South Australia, large parts of central areas of the Northern Territory into Western Australia, south coastal Western Australia, east Gippsland in Victoria, and scattered pockets elsewhere. For the 21-month period just over half of New South Wales has had lowest on record rainfall. 

Rainfall during the past week had eased rainfall deficiencies very slightly along parts of the east coast, but had little impact elsewhere for the period starting April 2018.

Affected areas through the interior of Australia have generally received less than 50% of average rainfall for this period. Affected areas of southern and eastern New South Wales and southeastern Queensland have generally received less than 60% of average rainfall, dropping to 30 to 40% in part of the inland slopes and plains region along the New South Wales—Queensland border.

Affected areas of southeastern New South Wales, Victoria, southern South Australia, Tasmania, and the South West Land Division in Western Australia have mostly received between 60% and 80% of average. Affected areas of the Kimberley in Western Australia have mostly received between 40% and 60% of average rainfall for the period.

Map of rainfall totals for this week

Product code: IDCKGRWAR0

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