Warm, Dry February 2019

Photo of bushfire smoke at 40 km.

Bushfire at Warrabah

The month began warm, with weekly temperature three degrees above normal, but it ended slightly cool. Day and night temperatures remained near normal. The highest maximum was just under 40°.
The morning of the 13th had very dry air, with a dew point of only 1.7°. (Serious bushfires were burning that day.)
There were only 2 rain days (usually 7). Neither recorded as much as 7 mm.

Graphical log for Feb 2019

Comparing February months

After the extreme heat of January, February was only 1° warmer than normal, by day and by night.
Two indicators of moisture, cloudiness and daily temperature range, were normal. However, the mean early morning dew point, 9.2°, showed the lowest February humidity this century.
The monthly rainfall of 10.6 mm was at the 9th percentile, far below the average (67 mm). This was the 12th driest February, but it had more rain than either February 2017 (6th driest) or February 2015 (ninth driest).
I have reported the on-going drought in another post.

The last 7 February 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.  Since no 9 am readings have been recorded since August, 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.

February: Two Record Droughts

Two rainfall totals to February 2019 were the lowest ever recorded at Manilla: 271 mm in 12 months, and 3672 mm in 7 years.

Rainfall status Jan-Feb 2019

Graph of Rainfall Shortages

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

The pattern

The very low rainfall of February 2019 (10.6 mm) has driven the rainfall totals lower than they were in January for nearly all the durations that are shown.
The rainfall totals up to 6 months are still not “serious” shortages (below the 10th percentile), but the only other total that is not now a serious shortage, or worse, is that for 30 years (360 months).
In recent months, extreme shortages (below the 1st percentile) have persisted at durations of 12 to 24 months, and at durations of 6 to 7 years.

Record-breaking drought

Two rainfall totals to the end of February are new drought records for Manilla.

The 12-month total of 271 mm beats 288 mm set in October 1965.
The 84-month (7-year) total of 3672 mm beats of 3699 mm set in March 1903.

Earlier, another record had been broken in September. The 15-month total of 400 mm at that date beat 404 mm set in May 1912.


Further Explanation

Drought 2018 contour chartMuch more detail was given in the post: “Contours of Manilla’s 2018 Drought” (with data up to October only). Notes include: “Long-term shortages”, “Classes of rainfall shortage”, and “Manilla rainfall records”.

3-year trends to February 2019

February arid

3-year trends to February 2019

February raw anomaly data (orange)

By February 2019, temperatures had returned from very high to normal. Rainfall remained very low, and dew point also became very low.

 Fully smoothed data (red)

Fully smoothed data to August 2018 showed that several trends for the spring were typical of drought:

Maximum temperature anomaly was steadily falling from the record high in March.
Minimum temperature anomaly was a little high and steady.
Subsoil temperature anomaly was falling towards normal from a low peak in June.
Rainfall anomaly was near the record low (smoothed) and steady.
Cloudiness anomaly was near zero.
Dew point anomaly was near the record low (smoothed) and steady.
Temperature range anomaly peaked rather high in July, then fell.

More recent data, only partially smoothed, suggest that temperatures and rainfall have since returned towards drought.


Notes:

January data points are marked by squares.

Smoothing

Smoothing uses Gaussian functions.
For fully smoothed data the function has a Standard Deviation of 2.5 months, it spans 13 monthly data points, and has a half-width of 6 months, which suppresses cycles shorter than 12 months. For partly smoothed data, the span of the function is reduced to 11 months, 9 months and so on.

Fully smoothed data points are plotted in red, partly smoothed data uncoloured, and raw data for the last data point in orange.

Limiting values

Blue diamonds and the dashed blue rectangle show the extreme values in the fully smoothed data record since September 1999.

Normal values

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.

One- and two-year droughts recur in January 2019

Drought contour plot to Jan 2019

This contour plot shows the progress of the extreme drought at Manilla up to January 2019. Colours show rainfall shortages as percentiles. Dates plot along the top, and durations down the side.

One month rainfall totals (on the top row)

By January 2019, there had been six months without serious monthly rainfall shortages. The months of serious rainfall shortage (light brown) were earlier, in May, June and July 2018. The only other month with such low rainfall was September 2017.

Droughts lasting less than one year (rows 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9)

As the effects of low monthly rainfall added up, extreme droughts appeared (dark brown). That is, rainfall totals below the 1st percentile. (They are the lowest rainfall totals, that have occurred in less than 1% of the historical record.)
By June 2018, the 2-month and 3-month totals were already extreme shortages. Similarly, by July, the 3-month, 4-month, and 5-month totals were extreme shortages. By September 2018, extreme shortages extended as far as the 9-month total. That total, adding up the nine months from January to September 2018, included only one month (February) that had rainfall above normal.
In these durations of less than one year, extreme droughts were rare after September 2018. Because the last six months had no serious monthly shortages, the final month (January) includes no serious shortages for durations from 2 months up to 6 months.

Droughts of 1 year to 2 year duration (rows 12, 15, 18, 24)

By August 2018, an extreme 15-month drought appeared. That 15-month total then included not only the dry months of winter 2018, but also the dry month of September 2017. By September 2018, the 15-month total became the driest on record (400 mm). By October all four droughts in this group (12-, 15-, 18-, and 24-month droughts) were extreme. This became true again in January 2019. By that date, some of the dry months of 2017 were no longer included, but dry months in the current summer replaced them in the total.


Related graphs

A similar contour plot with data to October 2018 is here.

A line graph of the rainfall status for January 2019 reveals that extreme shortages also exist now at the much longer durations of six years and seven years that are not included in this contour plot.


Notes

The following notes include:

Classes of rainfall shortage

Rainfall rate versus percentile rank

Limitations of this analysis

Note: Classes of rainfall shortage

Continue reading

January 2019 very hot

Sun sets through gum tree

Eucalypt Silhouette

Weekly temperatures were high all month, peaking at 6.4° above normal on the 17th and never less than 3.4° above normal. Seven days had peak temperature over 40° (fewer than the nine in February 2017). Only one day was cooler than normal, while no nights were.
There were four rain days, with 18 mm recorded on the 21st.

Graphical log for January 2019

Comparing January months

January 2019 was very hot: more than two degrees hotter than any recent month. Mean temperatures were far above the normal January temperatures for this station (means for the decade from March 1999):

Mean Maximum: 38.4°, above normal by 4.6°.
Mean average: 30.8°, above normal by 4.8°.
Mean minimum: 23.2°, above normal by 5.2°.

Manilla was not the only hot place. Australia-wide, this was the warmest January on record.

Apart from high air temperatures, Manilla’s climate was near normal. Even the subsoil temperature was normal. So were the cloudiness, dew point and daily temperature range.
The rainfall of 25.0 mm was at the 15th percentile, far below the average (87 mm). I will report the on-going drought in another post.

Climate for January 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.  Since no 9 am readings have been recorded since August, 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.

Driest 6 years since 1903

The six-year rainfall total of 3142 mm to January 2019 was the lowest in a century. The only lower totals ended in the months January, February, and March 1903.

Rainfall shortages at Dec 2018 and Jan 2019

Graph of Rainfall Shortages

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

Changes this month

The pattern

At this date, rainfall totals for short periods, one month to six months, are below normal but they are not serious shortages (below the 10th percentile). Now, nearly all rainfall totals for nine months up to twenty years are serious shortages or worse. Extreme shortages (below the first percentile) occur at durations from 12 months to 24 months, and at 6 and 7 years. Severe shortages (below the 5th percentile) have now developed at 30 months, 36 months and 48 months.

Short-term shortages

At durations less than nine months, rainfall shortages hover around the 20th percentile. While not classed as “serious”, such values cause the drought to extend to ever longer durations.

Extreme shortages

There are now extreme shortages (1st percentile) at durations of 12 months (331 mm), 15 months (444 mm) 18 months (548 mm), and 24 months (821 mm). The extreme 7-year shortage has now worsened, to become the 7th driest on record. However, the 6-year shortage is even worse, the 4th driest.

Long-term shortages

In the longer term, serious shortages at 8 years, 10 years and 20 years persist from the December graph, and a new one appears at 15 years.
Such long-term rainfall shortages were common early in the 20th century. They have hardly occurred since the Keepit Dam was built in 1960.


Further Explanation

Drought 2018 contour chartMuch more detail was given in the post: “Contours of Manilla’s 2018 Drought” (with data up to October only). Notes include: “Long-term shortages”, “Classes of rainfall shortage”, and “Manilla rainfall records”.

3-year trends to January 2019

January very hot

3-year trends to January 2019

January raw anomaly data (orange)

In January 2019, the daily maximum temperature (x-axes, all graphs) and daily minimum temperature (lower left graph) were extremely high, while the subsoil had warmed to normal. Rainfall was very low, while cloudiness, dew point and daily temperature range were near normal.

 Fully smoothed data (red)

By July 2018, the last date for which data can be fully smoothed (as described below), variables had already peaked, or were about to peak, in their contribution to an extreme drought.

More recent data, only partially smoothed, suggests that temperatures and rainfall have since returned towards drought.


Notes:

January data points are marked by squares.

Smoothing

Smoothing uses Gaussian functions.
For fully smoothed data the function has a Standard Deviation of 2.5 months, it spans 13 monthly data points, and has a half-width of 6 months, which suppresses cycles shorter than 12 months. For partly smoothed data, the span of the function is reduced to 11 months, 9 months and so on.

Fully smoothed data points are plotted in red, partly smoothed data uncoloured, and raw data for the last data point in orange.

Limiting values

Blue diamonds and the dashed blue rectangle show the extreme values in the fully smoothed data record since September 1999.

Normal values

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.