Bureau of Meteorology declares spring 2019 the driest on record


December 02, 2019 13:06:16

Spring 2019 was officially the driest of the Bureau of Meteorology’s 120 years of rainfall records.

Key points:

  • The year-to-date rainfall is now Australia’s second lowest on record
  • All capital city water storages are down on this time last year, apart from Melbourne
  • The BOM’s outlook for summer suggests there is little chance of relief in the coming months

It comes on top of previous dry seasons, with the year-to-date rainfall now the second lowest on record.

Western Australia was particularly dry, as well as hot, recording its lowest spring rainfall, highest average temperature and highest mean daytime temperature.

It was the fifth-warmest spring on record for the country as a whole — mean maximum temperatures were 2.41C warmer than average, second only to 2014.

Maximum temperatures were in the top 10 years of records for all states and territories with the exception of Victoria and Tasmania, which were still above average.

Why so dry?

This year has seen one of the strongest positive Indian Ocean Dipoles (IOD) on record.

The climate driver works to bring wet conditions to eastern Africa but dry conditions to Australia, with air rising in the western Indian Ocean and descending on Australia, inhibiting rain.

The other major climate driver at play has been the negative Southern Annular Mode (SAM), bringing strong westerly winds over the continent.

This has helped to bring hot air down from over central Australia towards the coasts.

Water stores down

All capital city water storages are down on this time last year, apart from Melbourne.

State and territory water storage capacities range from South Australia at 94.4 per cent to New South Wales at 27.2 per cent.

Australia’s total accessible water volume is 47.7 per cent, down from 55.6 per cent last year; this value has been on a general decline since the big wet of 2016.

There is little relief in sight

The BOM’s outlook for summer, released late last week, suggests there is little chance of relief to the dry conditions in the coming months.

There is, however, a sliver of hope that the IOD and SAM will return to more neutral conditions late in summer.

While that is not a promise of widespread drought-breaking rain, it is at least potentially a break from extra dry conditions for parts of the country.














First posted

December 02, 2019 12:57:57

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