Rainfall Shortage Sequence 04/2019

Sequence of raiinfall shortages to April 2019

By April 2019, driest-ever rainfall totals occur at durations of 15, 18, 24 and 30 months. The total for 12 months is the second driest for that duration.

This contour plot shows the progress of the drought at Manilla up to April 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)

April 2019, which had no rain, followed eight months without serious monthly rainfall shortages. Months of serious rainfall shortage (light brown) had come earlier, in May, June and July 2018, and also in September 2017.

Shortages lasting less than one year (rows 2 to 9)

As the effects of low monthly rainfall added up, extreme shortages appeared (dark brown). That is, rainfall totals in the lowest 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 all extreme shortages. By September 2018, extreme shortages extended as far as 9-month totals. That total, adding up the nine months from January to September 2018, included only one month (February) that had rainfall above normal.
In these shorter durations, extreme shortages were rare after September 2018. March 2019 included no shortages (not even “serious” ones) for durations from 2 months up to 6 months. However, April saw some serious shortages return.

Shortages of 1-year to 3-year duration (rows 12 to 36)

By August 2018, an extreme 15-month shortage appeared. The 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 four totals in this group (12-, 15-, 18-, and 24-month totals) were extreme shortages. That was true again in January 2019. By that time, some dry months in 2017 were excluded, but dry months in the current summer were included.
In February 2019, as the four extreme shortages of the previous month persisted, the 12-month total became the driest ever (271 mm). March also had four extreme shortages in this group, but now they were at 12, 15, 24 and 30 months. The 24-month total (769 mm) was the second-driest on record and the 30-month total (1078 mm) equal driest.
April was much worse: lowest-ever or second-lowest values appeared for all five durations from 12 months to 30 months.

The 2002 extreme drought

Contour chart 2002 drought at Manilla NSWA similar graph was posted in “The 2002 drought contour chart”. It is clear that, in that case, extreme shortages did not extend through the 15- to 30-month durations that have the most extreme shortages now.

A line graph for April 2019

A profile of the rainfall status for April 2019 reveals that extreme shortages also exist at durations much longer than shown in this contour graph: durations of six years and seven years. Severe shortages even occur at durations of ten years and twenty years.


Data and method

This kind of graph simply displays the time sequence, month by month, of rainfall shortages that I have displayed on line graphs prepared for each month. In the post for the most recent line graph (April 2019) I have described my method of analysis and its limitations.

No Rain Days in April 2019

Split Rock Reservoir 4-5-19

A warm spell in the third week was 4.2° above normal. There were 29 days over 25°, many more than usual. Anzac Day (25th) was sunny, calm and warm. It reached 28.2°, which was four degrees above average for that day, but not up to the 28.7° of Anzac Day 2002.
There were no rain days (usually four) and the dew point on the 28th reached a record low April value of minus 3.2°. There were no frosts.

Weather log for April 2019

Comparing April months

This month was warm (average 19.8°), but not as warm as April 2018, 2016 or 2005. The mean daily maximum of 27.8° was well below that of April 2005 (29.5°).
There was no rain, as in April 1912, 1925, 1942 and 1971. Dry air was shown by early morning readings of low dew point (5.8°) and very low relative humidity (67%). However, normal moisture was shown by 30% cloudy days and a daily temperature range of 15.9°.

The last seven April months

Drought

The on-going unprecedented drought is reported in another post.


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.

3-year trends to April 2019

April no rain

3-year trends to April 2019

April raw anomaly data (orange)

In April 2019, a rainfall total of zero made the raw anomaly for rainfall minus 40 mm. Rainfall, and the other moisture indicators (cloudiness, dew point, and daily temperature range) were much further up the graphs towards drought than they had been in March.
Daily maximum, minimum and subsoil temperatures were high, near the high-side limits of (smoothed) normal temperature.

 Fully smoothed data (red)

Fully smoothed data to October 2018 show rainfall just short of the record negative anomaly set in May 2018, and both maximum and minimum temperatures near record positive anomalies. However, cloudiness, dew point, and daily temperature range continued a movement (down) away from 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.
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April 2019: 7 lowest rainfall totals

In April 2019, rainfall totals were the lowest-ever values for 1 month and for 15, 18, 24, 30, 72, and 84 months.

Rainfall status Mar-Apr 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 April, 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 method is described in “Further Explanation” below.]

Record and near-record low rainfall totals

There never has been a month at Manilla when rainfall totals have included so many record or near-record low values.

  • The 1-month total for April is zero (as in April 1912, 1925, 1942, and 1971).
  • The 12-month total of 283 mm is second-lowest after February 2019 (271 mm).
  • The 15-month total of 397 mm is a new record, beating September 2018 (400 mm).
  • The 18-month total of 510 mm is a new record, beating April 1966 (514 mm).
  • The 24-month total of 745 mm is a new record, beating July 1966 (766 mm).
  • The 30-month total of 1005 mm is a new record, beating March 2019 (1078 mm).
  • The 72-month total of 3060 mm is equal-lowest with February 1903.
  • The 84-month total of 3653 mm is a new record, beating February 2019 (3672 mm).

Other changes from March to April

When rainfall in April was 55 mm less than in March, the short-duration totals for 3, 4, 5, and 6 months became serious shortages again.
New severe rainfall shortages appeared at the very long durations of 144 months (12 years) and 240 months (20 years). Such shortages have not been seen in half a century: not since 1969 in the case of 144 months duration, and not since 1950 in the case of 240 months duration.

May 2019 data

Data for the following month, May 2019, is plotted in the same way in the post “May 2019 rain gives some relief“.


Further Explanation

The following notes explain aspects of this work under these listed headings:

Data analysis

Cumulative rainfall totals
Percentile values
Severity of rainfall shortages

Limitations of this analysis

Monthly rainfalls form a single population
Observations are not retrospective
The rain gauge failed

Data analysis

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Rainfall Shortage Jan 2000 – Mar 2019

Severe and extreme rainfall shortages Jan 2000 to Mar 2019

The current drought now has an extreme rainfall shortage of 84 months duration that must have commenced in 2012.

A new graph

This graph shows the onset, persistence, and breaking of episodes of extreme and severe rainfall shortage (droughts) at Manilla since 2000. It is a part of a graph of the complete historical record from 1884. In this case, the time axis is expanded to resolve individual months.

Complete record severe and extreme rainfall shortagesThe features of this “onset-to-breaking” kind of graph and the data analysis are explained in the post “Rainfall Shortage History: Manilla”.

Extreme shortages, up to the 1st percentile, are shown in red and severe shortages, up to the 5th percentile, are shown in grey.
The dashed line labelled “Last Good Data” is a limitation to determining cumulative rainfall deficiency. Future observations may make any point to the right of this line more extreme.

The pattern of rainfall shortages from 2000

Shortages before 2018

In 2000 there were no rainfall shortages classed as “severe”. There had been hardly any since 1994.
The drought that occurred in winter 2002 had extreme rainfall shortages at all durations from 3 months to 12 months. Severe shortages extended even further: from 2 months to 30 months. However this was a much shorter drought than six others in the history of Manilla.

Although severe rainfall shortages (grey) occurred at intervals between 2002 and 2018, they formed small clusters, mainly at short durations. Years affected were 2005, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2017. By 2014, there was public concern about shortage of rainfall. Although there were few seasonal severe shortages at that time, the graph shows that there were severe shortages at durations from 12 months to 30 months through 2013 and 2014.

With the benefit of current data, we can see that severe and even extreme shortages of duration longer than 60 months were, in fact, initiated in 2012 or earlier. They were not apparent at the time, however. In October 2016, in a post “Is There Any Drought Now?”, I argued that there was no evidence of drought at that time.

An alternative expression of rainfall status during this time is a graph of smoothed rainfall anomalies in the post “17 Years of “Droughts and Flooding Rains” at Manilla”.

Shortages at 2018

Shortages of rainfall became alarming in 2018. The winter months had extreme shortages of 2-month to 6-month duration. Earlier and later dry months contributed to a 15-month extreme shortage, such as had not occurred since 1966, half a century earlier.
After November 2018 none of the short-term rainfall totals for durations less than nine months has been even a severe shortage. In other respects, the drought has deepened. As recent monthly rainfall values have scarcely risen above normal, durations of severe or extreme shortage have become longer and longer. As at March 2019, extreme shortages prevail at 30 months, 72 months and 84 months. Severe shortages prevail at even longer durations, now up to 120 months (10 years).

Other Current Graphs

Other graphs of the drought, current to March 2019 data, are in two posts: “March Rain Leaves Drought Extreme”, and “Rainfall Shortage Sequence 03/2019”.


Notes

The Millennium Drought absent
“Rainfall Shortages” or “Droughts”?
Short droughts are worst

The Millennium Drought absent

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Rainfall Shortage History: Manilla

Complete record of droughts, Manilla NSW

Manilla had great droughts in 1902, 1912, 1940, 1946, 1966, and 2018.

A new graph

This new graph records all historic periods of severe and extreme rainfall shortage at Manilla NSW. Data show 25 values of duration from 2 months to 360 months. Unlike the graphs of rainfall shortage in earlier posts, this graph shows the months of onset, persistence, and breaking of each occurrence. [See the Note below: “An innovative graph”.]
Extreme shortages (up to the 1st percentile) are shown in red and severe shortages (up to the 5th percentile) are shown in grey.
The dashed lines labelled “First Good Data” and “Last Good Data” are limitations that apply to all cumulative rainfall deficiency data. [See the note below: “First Good Data; Last Good Data”.]

“Rainfall Shortages” or “Droughts”?

Although droughts involve other factors, rainfall shortage is decisive. Some other factors, such as daily maximum temperature anomaly, vary in the same sense, Australia-wide.
Recognised times of drought at Manilla appear on this graph as extended periods of severe or extreme rainfall shortage .
To simplify, I have separated the graph into three parts according to the duration of the shortages: seasonal droughts, great droughts, and decadal droughts.

Complete record of seasonal droughts

Seasonal droughts.

Droughts with extreme shortages of rainfall that lasted up to nine months happened often. Counting those with more than one red marker, there were 16 seasonal droughts in 136 years: about one in each nine years. Gaps as short as four years happened around 1920, while the longest gap of 16 years came between 2002 and 2018.
The most common season of extreme rainfall shortage was winter, with 8 cases. Autumn had 5 cases and spring 3 cases, while summer had none.
Some of these seasonal droughts became Great Droughts.

Complete record of the great droughts

The Six Great Droughts: 1-year to 9-year duration.

According to this graph, Manilla has suffered six great droughts, attested by extreme shortages of rainfall at more than 2 of the 13 chosen duration values from 12 months to 108 months. They were:

(1.) 1902 (the Federation Drought);
(2.) 1912;
(3.) 1940 (first part of the World War II Drought);
(4.) 1946 (second part of the World War II Drought);
(5.) 1966;
(6.) 2018.

[The absence of the Millennium Drought is discussed in the Note below.]

BoM continental rainfall maps

Continue reading

Rainfall Shortage Sequence 03/2019

Sequence of raiinfall shortages to March 2019

By March 2019, extreme shortages of rainfall occur at durations from 12 months to 30 months.

This contour plot shows the progress of the drought at Manilla up to March 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 March 2019, there had been eight 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 in the last two years with such low rainfall was September 2017.

Shortages lasting less than one year (rows 2 to 9)

As the effects of low monthly rainfall added up, extreme shortages appeared (dark brown). That is, rainfall totals in the lowest 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 all extreme shortages. By September 2018, extreme shortages extended as far as 9-month totals. That total, adding up the nine months from January to September 2018, included only one month (February) that had rainfall above normal.
In these shorter durations, extreme shortages were rare after September 2018. The final month plotted (March) includes no shortages (not even “serious” ones) for durations from 2 months up to 6 months.

Shortages of 1-year to 3-year duration (rows 12 to 36)

By August 2018, an extreme 15-month shortage appeared. The 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 four totals in this group (12-, 15-, 18-, and 24-month totals) were extreme shortages. That was true again in January 2019. By that time, some dry months in 2017 were excluded, but dry months in the 2018-19 summer were included.
In February 2019, as the four extreme shortages of the previous month persisted, the 12-month total became the driest on record (271 mm). March also had four extreme shortages in this group, but now they were at 12, 15, 24 and 30 months. The 24-month total (769 mm) was the second-driest on record and the 30-month total (1078 mm) equal driest.

A related graph

A line graph of the rainfall status for March 2019  extends to durations much longer than the 36 months shown in this contour graph. It reveals that extreme shortages exist at durations of six years and seven years.


Data and method

This kind of graph simply displays the time sequence, month by month, of rainfall shortages that I have displayed on line graphs prepared for each month. In the post for the most recent line graph (March 2019) I have described my method of analysis and its limitations.