The 2002 drought contour chart

Contour chart 2002 drought at Manilla NSW

The 2002 drought at Manilla was a failure of winter rainfall. [See Note below: “Manilla’s rainfall seasonality”.]

The top line of this contour chart shows that monthly rainfall shortages occurred in all the six months of winter rainfall dominance (April to September) of 2002. Shortages in May and July were severe, below the 5th percentile. In the summer rainfall months (October to March) that preceded and followed, rainfall was near or above normal. [See Note below: “Classes of rainfall shortage”.]

Lower down the contour chart, rainfall shortages of longer duration are shown. For droughts of 3 months duration, the rainfall shortage was extreme (1st percentile) by July 2002, as it included the serious shortage of May as well as that of July. In the same way, one sees extreme 6-month shortages in September and October, as all the monthly rainfall shortages since March added up.

By November 2002, one sees extreme droughts of 9 months and 12 months duration. The 9-month drought incorporated the consecutive months of below-normal rainfall from March to November. The extreme 12-month drought (307 mm) that was evident in November 2002 began earlier, with below-normal rainfalls in December 2001 and January 2002. That was the fourth driest 12-month period on record, after October 1965 (288 mm), August 1946 (302 mm) and November 1965 (304 mm).

The 2002 drought had no extreme rainfall shortages longer than 12 months. There were, however, some severe shortages of 18 months duration and some serious shortages of 24 months duration, due to some low rainfalls in the previous winter (2001).

By April 2003, hardly any serious rainfall shortages due to the 2002 drought remained. [See Note below: “Limitations of this analysis”]

More about the 2002 drought

Graph of monthly percentile rainfall in a droughtAnother approach to describing this 2002 drought is in the post “The 2002 rainfall shortages at Manilla”. That post has a graph showing selected monthly profiles of percentile values. It also links to two earlier posts with graphs of smoothed values of climatic anomalies.

The 2018 Drought

Drought 2018 contour chartA similar contour plot for the drought of 2018 reveals similarities and differences.


Note: Classes of rainfall shortage

Continue reading

An Extreme 24-month Drought

The 830 mm of rain that fell in the last 24-months is the lowest in 50 years.

Rainfall shortages September and October 2018 at Manilla

Graph of Rainfall Shortages

This graph shows all the present rainfall shortages at Manilla, short term and long term, in terms of percentile values. The latest values, as at the end of October, are shown by a black line with black circles. Those from one month earlier, at the end of September, are shown by a thinner line with smaller white circles.

Changes this month

October rainfall that was normal (51.6 mm) also raised the totals for 2 months and 3 months, so they did not qualify as serious shortages. The 4-month total of 101 mm just qualified.
Extreme shortages formed a new pattern. In September, two values had been exceptionally low: the 6-month total had been the third lowest ever, and the 15-month total had been the lowest. By October, no rainfall was far below the 1st percentile value. They clustered at 12 months, 15 months, 18 months and 24 months.
As the 24-month rainfall shortage was extreme (below 840 mm), this became the worst 24-month drought in half a century. Extreme 24-month droughts had come in 1902, 1913, 1946, and 1966, but never since.


Further Explanation

Much more detail was given with last month’s graph of rainfall shortages, in the post: “Record 15-month Drought in 2018”. Notes include: “Long-term shortages”, “Classes of rainfall shortage”, and “Manilla rainfall records”.


Drought development plot

Drought 2018 contour chartThe development of the 2018 drought at Manilla is shown in the post “Contours of Manilla’s 2018 Drought”. The graph there shows contours of drought severity plotted against date and duration.

Moist October 2018

Green grass in a drought

Greenness that thickens

No temperatures were extreme, but many nights were warm. The weekly temperatures were three or four degrees high after the middle of the month. The sunniest days had low early morning dew points.
There were eight rain days, with the highest reading 15 mm, on the 11th.

Weather log, October 2018

Comparing October months

While the mean temperature (20.3°) was just above normal, this month was as moist as October 2017. Despite the continuing drought, the daily temperature range was low (14.9°), the cloudiness high (52%), and the dew point high (7.2°).
The rainfall total of 51.6 mm (estimated) is at the 45th percentile for October, not far below average (58 mm).
I have reported the drought in another post (“Contours of Manilla’s 2018 Drought”).

Climate in October months


Data. A Bureau of Meteorology automatic rain gauge operates in the museum yard. From 17 March 2017, 9 am daily readings are published as Manilla Museum, Station 55312.  These reports use that rainfall data when it is available.  The record was again defective in October 2018. No 9am readings were recorded. I have substituted my non-standard gauge readings for all days.
All other data, including subsoil at 750 mm, are from 3 Monash Street, Manilla.

3-year trends to October 2018

Moist

3-year trends to October 2018

October raw anomaly data (orange)

In October 2018, raw values of three anomalies moved low on the graphs, showing more moisture . They were: cloudy days percent, dew point, and (narrow) daily temperature range. Rainfall increased from very low back to normal.
For temperatures, daily maximum fell to normal, daily minimum rose extremely high, and subsoil temperature fell very low.

 Fully smoothed data (red)

Fully smoothed data for April 2018 did not break the previous month’s record for daily maximum temperature anomaly (x-axis), as I had thought it would.
The April smoothed rainfall anomaly of minus 27.8 mm (top left graph) beat the 21st-century record minus value of 27.1 mm set in July 2002.
In April 2018, the trend for decreasing rainfall with increasing daily maximum temperature (top left graph), which had had lasted eight months, altered as temperature began to fall.. At that date, the three other moisture anomaly variables were moving rapidly up the graphs towards drought.
Daily minimum temperature anomaly was falling from a recent maximum in February. Subsoil temperature anomaly continued its sustained rapid rise.


Note:

Fully smoothed data – Gaussian smoothing with half-width 6 months – are plotted in red, partly smoothed data uncoloured, and raw data for the last data point in orange. January data points are marked by squares.
Blue diamonds and the dashed blue rectangle show the extreme values in the fully smoothed data record since September 1999.

Normal values are based on averages for the decade from March 1999.* They appear on these graphs as a turquoise (turquoise) circle at the origin (0,0). A range of anomalies called “normal” is shown by a dashed rectangle in aqua (aqua). For values in degrees, the assigned normal range is +/-0.7°; for cloudiness, +/-7%; for monthly rainfall, +/-14 mm.

 * Normal values for rainfall are based on averages for the 125 years beginning 1883.

Contours of Manilla’s 2018 Drought

Drought 2018 contour chart

Displaying drought severity, date, and duration.

This image shows how an extreme drought developed at Manilla, NSW in 2018. The contours and colours indicate drought severity. They show whether the rainfall shortage was extreme, severe, or merely serious. At times without drought, they show when the rainfall was above normal.
[See Note below: “Classes of rainfall shortage”.]
Calendar months appear in order along the top, showing how the severity of drought has changed as time has passed.
Down the side, the duration of drought is shown, from one month duration at the top to thirty-six months duration at the bottom. Each month is shown on one vertical line, with a severity value plotted against each duration value.
[In other posts (like “Record 15-month Drought in 2018”) each individual month’s drought data is plotted as severity versus duration.]

The pattern of the 2018 drought

Development

In each of the months May, June, and July 2018, the monthly rainfall was a serious or severe shortage, below the 10th percentile. As rainfall had been below normal also in March and April, each month after April saw severe and even extreme shortages that extended to durations of 3 months and longer. By August, there were extreme droughts of five-month and six-month duration, despite reasonable rain (28 mm) having fallen in August.
By September, the nine months to date were in extreme drought. That is to say, the first nine months of 2018 had a total rainfall lower than any but 1% of all nine-month periods in history.
However, in that month (September 2018), the rainfall shortage for a 12-month duration was not extreme, but merely severe. Yet the 15-month shortage for that month was also extreme. In fact, it was the lowest 15-month rainfall total in history (400 mm).
The source of the extreme 15-month shortage at this date is obvious. One year earlier, the month of September 2017 had a serious rainfall shortage, and the two previous months had little rain. From these short-term shortages in spring 2017, shortages of longer duration descend as an arc across the graph. They become mild nine-month shortages during the summer, then worsen to extreme by merging with 2018 shortages.

Seasonality

Manilla’s rainfall is seasonal, with two distinct modes, each dominating half the year. There is a major summer (monsoonal) mode and a minor winter (westerly) mode. The summer rainfall mode dominates from October to March and the winter rainfall mode dominates from April to September. [See Note below: “Manilla’s rainfall seasonality”.]
This graph documents a failure of winter rainfall. The 2018 months that had rainfall shortages were the months of dominance of the winter rainfall mode (April to September). Rainfall had been near or above normal in the preceding summer rainfall mode (October 2017 to March 2018), and was so again in October 2018. [See Note below: “Limitations of this analysis”]
The rainfall shortages in the previous year (2017) were also restricted to the months of the winter rainfall mode, but began very late. Shortages did not develop until the final three months (July, August, September). Only when the extreme drought of 2018 developed did those 2017 shortages have a big effect.


The 2002 drought contour plot

Contour chart 2002 drought at Manilla NSWThe most recent extreme drought at Manilla before 2018 was the drought of 2002.
A contour plot in the same format is in this post.


Note: Classes of rainfall shortage

Continue reading

Dry and Mild September 2018

Eucalypts dying in drought

White Box Trees Die

Temperatures were near normal, with a number of warm nights. There was just one very cool day that reached only 14.8°. The first 30° day of spring came on the 14th. The early morning dew point on the 17th, minus 10.5°, was the lowest September value, but far from the lowest recorded recently.
There were eight rain days, but the highest reading was only 3.6 mm, on the first day of the month.

Weather log September 2018

Comparing September months

Despite being within an extreme drought, moisture measures this month were not very low; not as low as in September 2017. While the mean temperature was normal, the daily temperature range was low, which is unusual in a drought.
The rainfall total of 12.5 mm (estimated) is at the 18th percentile for September.
I have reported the shortage of rainfall in another post: “Record 15-Month Drought in 2018”.

Climate in September months


Data. A Bureau of Meteorology automatic rain gauge operates in the museum yard. From 17 March 2017, 9 am daily readings are published as Manilla Museum, Station 55312.  These reports use that rainfall data when it is available.  The record was again defective in September 2018. No 9am readings were recorded. I have substituted my non-standard gauge readings for all days.
All other data, including subsoil at 750 mm, are from 3 Monash Street, Manilla.

3-year trends to September 2018

Equable, less sunny

3-year trends to September 2018

September raw anomaly data (orange)

Like last month, climate anomalies were in retreat from drought. All moisture measures, except rainfall, moved lower on the graphs. Both the daily temperature range and the percent of cloudy mornings recovered from extreme values.

 Fully smoothed data (red)

Fully smoothed data for March 2018 broke the previous month’s record for daily maximum temperature anomaly (x-axis), advancing from +1.58 to +1.63 degrees. The March smoothed rainfall anomaly of −27.1 mm (top left graph) equaled the 20th-century record minus value set in July 2002. Both these records may be broken by fully-smoothed figures for April 2018.
By March 2018, the trend for decreasing rainfall with increasing daily maximum temperature (top left graph) had lasted eight months. Other variables had different patterns. Most were just beginning to move towards drought after several months with little change.
Daily minimum temperature, after six months of sustained rise, then began to fall. Subsoil temperature anomaly was rising, lagging daily maximum temperature anomaly by five months.


Note:

Fully smoothed data – Gaussian smoothing with half-width 6 months – are plotted in red, partly smoothed data uncoloured, and raw data for the last data point in orange. January data points are marked by squares.
Blue diamonds and the dashed blue rectangle show the extreme values in the fully smoothed data record since September 1999.

Normal values are based on averages for the decade from March 1999.* They appear on these graphs as a turquoise (turquoise) circle at the origin (0,0). A range of anomalies called “normal” is shown by a dashed rectangle in aqua (aqua). For values in degrees, the assigned normal range is +/-0.7°; for cloudiness, +/-7%; for monthly rainfall, +/-14 mm.

 * Normal values for rainfall are based on averages for the 125 years beginning 1883.