Weather Weather bureau declares spring 2019 the driest on record

Weather bureau declares spring 2019 the driest on record

spring 2019 dry drought
A Station near Parkes after NSW was declared 100 per cent drought affected in July. Photo: AAP
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Spring 2019 was officially the driest of the Bureau of Meteorology’s 120 years of rainfall records.

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 2.41 degrees warmer than average, second only to 2014.

weather dry spring 2019
Water storages in capital cities on December 1, 2018, and December 1, 2019. Graph: ABC

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.

This year has brought one of the strongest positive Indian Ocean Dipoles 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, bringing strong westerly winds over the continent.

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

spring 2019 dry weather
Spring rainfall was well below average across much of the country. Photo: ABC

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 NSW 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.


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