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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray
17 June 2003
Despite some declaring the drought is over, analysis of national rainfall by the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology shows that despite near to, or better than average rainfall over recent months in some areas, rain shortfalls, or deficiencies persist over much of Eastern Australia, parts of central Australia and Western Australia.
However, the latest seasonal outlook from the Bureau's National Climate Centre for the July to September period shows generally the odds are even for above-average falls over much of the country.
The outlook is based on recent Indian and Pacific Ocean temperatures. The tropical Indian Ocean is warmer than average, whilst the Pacific has continued to cool following the end of El Nino. The overall pattern of probabilities is almost entirely a result of warmer than average temperatures in the Indian Ocean.
"This return to the more usual pattern of seasonal rainfall is consistent with the ending of the 2002/03 El Nino event. But so far the rainfalls have not been uniform and the long-term rainfall figures calculated by the National Climate Centre show just how severe this drought has been," Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Bureau of Meteorology Dr Sharman Stone said.
Analysis of rainfall since April 2002 show that the shortfalls in average rainfall in the drought affected regions ranges between 100 and 500mm. This underscores the severity of the drought during the past year.
"Clearly much more follow-up rain is required before we can put the drought completely behind us," Dr Stone said.
New Bureau of Meteorology Maps
Due to the increased demand for weather forecast information, the Bureau of Meteorology is now making available customised maps for each state and territory.
Dr Stone said this more detailed information can now be found at the Bureau's website www.bom.gov.au/climate/ahead.
Andrew Cox (Dr Stone's office), 0408 057 226