The current drought now has a severe rainfall shortage of 240 months duration that must have commenced in 1999.
[For explanation of this graph, see below: “About drought duration graphs”.]
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 longer-term extreme shortages from 9 months up to 30-months.
In months since November 2018 none of the short-term rainfall totals for durations from two months to six months has been even a severe shortage. In other respects, the drought has deepened. Because recent monthly rainfall values have seldom risen above normal, periods of severe or extreme shortage have become longer and longer. As at May 2019, extreme shortages prevail at 15-, 18-, 24-, 30-, 72- and 84-month durations.
Severe shortages have developed at even longer durations, at 96-, 120-, 150- and 240-months. As is clear from the graph, the 240-month severe shortage incorporates the 2002 drought into the 2018 drought. This was not evident until now.
As shown, the severe shortages of 150- and 240-month duration, current in April 2019, did not persist in observations for May. They could resume if later months do not have much rain. [Actually, this was a copy-down error.]
Compete record updated to May
When the graph of the complete record of months of rainfall shortage at Manilla is updated to May 2019 it is obvious that the current drought is one of the great droughts in history.
Although this drought seemed to have a sudden onset, shortages of longer duration actually began earlier: the longer the duration concerned, the earlier its time of onset.. The 2018 pattern is like the droughts of 1902, 1940 and 1946. Droughts that actually had a sudden onset were those of 1912, 1957 and 1966.
About drought duration graphs
These graphs show the onset, persistence, and breaking of episodes of extreme and severe rainfall shortage (droughts) at Manilla. The first shows detail since 2000. The second shows the complete historical record from 1884. The graph features 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 of observed cumulative rainfall deficiency. Future observations may make any point to the right of this line more extreme.