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.


January data points are marked by squares.


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.