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Ag News

BOM - Deficiencies persist in many areas, but ease somewhat in the Southeast

  • By: "Prime" Ag News
  • Jan 10, 2019

December overview.
   * December rainfall below average for much of northern Australia, southern Queensland, northern New South Wales, and northeastern to central South Australia
   * Rainfall above average for December across northern coastal Queensland, parts of the mainland southeast (particularly western Victoria), and an area of southeastern Western Australia and northwestern South Australia
   * Rainfall deficiencies decreased at the 9- and 12-month timescales in parts of the southeast, but increased in northern Australia
   * Longer-term deficiencies continue with generally little change in most areas
   * Lower-level soil moisture below average for December across coastal north and southwest of Western Australia, large parts of northern New South Wales, large areas in inland southeastern and central northern Queensland, and parts of Top End and northeast Northern Territory
   * Record high temperatures added to moisture stress

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December rainfall was above average for coastal northern Queensland, largely as a result of tropical cyclone activity, and an active monsoon trough across the Coral Sea towards end of the month. Rainfall was also above average for much of Victoria and adjacent southwest New South Wales and border regions of South Australia. Further west, a large area spanning southeastern Western Australia and northwestern South Australia also had above average rainfall.

Rainfall for December was below average across much of Queensland away from the east coast, northern New South Wales, northeastern to central southern South Australia, across the Northern Territory, and across much of northern and the inland west of Western Australia.

Rainfall deficiencies for periods up to 12 months have eased across much of Victoria and parts of southern New South Wales, but have increased somewhat further north. At the longer 21-month timescale deficiencies remain generally similar, but have increased in some parts of northern New South Wales.

Rainfall for 2018 as a whole was exceptionally low over the southeastern quarter of the mainland, with much of the region experiencing totals in the lowest 10% of records. Significant rainfall deficiencies continue to affect large areas of eastern Australia at timescales out to around two years' duration. Annual rainfall was the seventh-lowest on record (since 1900) for the Murray-Darling Basin.

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The year was very warm, and exceptionally so in December. Mean monthly temperature for December was the warmest on record for Australia, with prolonged periods of extreme heat, especially late in the month. Very warm temperatures across eastern Australia in the vast majority of months for the past two years have increased moisture stress, adding to the impact of low rainfall.