Profile of an Extreme Drought

Rainfall vs Maximum temperature, 2002 droughtAt Manilla, NSW, there was a drought in 2002 that was extreme, but brief. There have been no other extreme droughts at Manilla in the 21st century. The current drought is not as bad (yet).
The first graph shows a profile of the 2002 drought. Low rainfall is at the top, and hot days are on the right. Droughts, with low rainfall and hot days, will be near the top right corner. Normal climate is marked by a rectangle (coloured aqua (aqua)) in the middle.
The climate in these months moved into drought and out of it. January 2001 (Start) had perfectly normal climate with no drought, and so did February 2003 (Finish). Rainfall first became lower than normal after January 2002, and reached a minimum 27 mm below normal in July 2002. Rainfall returned to the normal range by December 2002. Day-time temperature went above the normal range in May 2002, reached a peak 1.3 degrees above normal in September-October 2002, and fell back into the normal range in January 2003. For rainfall lower than normal, the drought lasted ten months: for days hotter than normal, it lasted eight months. In this drought, the time of lowest rainfall came two to three months earlier than the time of hottest days.

(There is more detailed analysis of  the 2002 drought in a post dated September 2004.)

Graphs showing the progress of the drought as rainfall shortages are in the post “The 2002 rainfall shortages at Manilla”.

The loop on the graph shows this drought as a simple event with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Droughts are not usually seen to be so simple. This graph is made using two “tricks”: anomalies and smoothing. You must judge whether you trust them to describe the drought as it happened.

Continue reading