Weekly Rainfall Update

For the week to 28 January 2020, rainfall was recorded in the Kimberley in Western Australia, in the north and east of the Northern Territory, most of Queensland, in northeastern and southeast inland parts of New South Wales, much of Victoria, southeastern South Australia, and Tasmania.

At the start of the week, surface troughs extended across northern and eastern Australia, and in the south, a cold front tracked across the Great Australian Bight before crossing southeast Australia. Thunderstorms and showers brought moderate falls to much of northern Australia and across eastern Queensland. Moderate falls were recorded in southern central Victoria and Tasmania, associated with the passage of the cold front. As the cold front moved across eastern New South Wales, another cold front quickly followed, and brought further moderate falls to parts of eastern New South Wales, eastern Victoria and western Tasmania.

By the middle of the week, a broad low pressure trough extended over northern Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and northern Queensland. Another through extending from the northwest and central Queensland to northeast New South Wales triggered widespread thunderstorm activity across the north of the country, and most of Queensland and northeastern New South Wales.

A humid west to northwesterly flow was constantly feeding moisture into northern Australia, and a slow-moving tropical low pressure system lingered about the Northern Territory and Queensland border. Widespread showers and thunderstorms with locally heavy falls extended over the Top End of the Northern Territory, and northern districts of Queensland. Showers and thunderstorms also extended from central and southeast Queensland to northeastern New South Wales.

At the end of the week, the tropical low was located over the southeastern Gulf of Carpentaria, and moderate to heavy falls and squally thunderstorms developed over the Gulf Country in Queensland. Slow-moving thunderstorms south of Townsville produced moderate to locally heavy falls about the Burdekin coast of Queensland.

Rainfall totals in excess of 200 mm were recorded in parts of the Gulf Country, the northern interior and along the north tropical and Burdekin coasts of Queensland. The highest weekly total was 475 mm at Ayr DPI Research Station in north Queensland. Higher totals were reported by some gauges not within the standard Bureau network, including 617 mm at Rita Island (in the Ayr region).

Rainfall totals in excess of 100 mm were recorded in a small area of the Kimberley, the Darwin–Daly district in the Northern Territory, the Gulf Country, the northern interior, the north tropical and central coasts of Queensland, and in parts of western Tasmania.

Rainfall totals in excess of 50 mm were recorded in parts of the Kimberley in Western Australia, the northwest Top End and the Carpentaria and Barkly districts of the Northern Territory, across large parts of central to northern Queensland, parts of southeast Queensland and northeastern New South Wales, and the western half of Tasmania.

Rainfall totals between 10 mm and 50 mm were recorded in remaining parts of the Kimberley, in the north and east of the Northern Territory, across most of Queensland except in the far southwest, the northeastern quarter and southeast inland areas of New South Wales, most of Victoria except in the northwest and far east, southeastern South Australia, and the eastern half of Tasmania.

Little to no rainfall was recorded in remaining parts of Western Australia, the southern parts of the Northern Territory, southwest Queensland, western New South Wales, and South Australia away from the southeast.

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 28 January 2020.

Rainfall for the period 1 August 2019 to 28 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 eased deficiencies somewhat in parts of western, northern and the east coast of Queensland, and the Carpentaria and northern Barkly districts 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 28 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 had little impact on deficiencies in affected areas.

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 28 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 in small areas of central western Queensland, 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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