June breaks more drought records

Rainfall status May-June 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 June, are shown by a thick black line with large circles. Those from one month earlier are shown by a thinner line with small diamonds. [The method is described in “Further Explanation” below.]

Changes from May to June

The June rainfall of only 4.8 mm took Manilla’s rainfall status curve back to where it was in April.
Five records for low rainfall totals have been broken yet again: the totals for 15-, 18-, 24-, 30-and 72-months. The 84-month total at June (3660 mm) is also extremely low, but ranks second-driest to April 2019.
The record for a 15-month dry spell, which had stood at 404 mm since 1912, has been broken four times in this drought, and now stands at 367 mm. That is down by 37 mm, or nearly 10% below the 1912 figure. The 24-month record had stood at 766 mm since 1966 when it was broken this April, May, and June. It now stands 73 mm lower, at 693 mm.


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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May 2019 rain gives some relief

Rainfall status Apr-May 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 May, 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.]

Changes from April to May

Above-average rainfall in May relieved the drought situation in some ways. Rainfall shortages of 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-month duration are no longer serious. The 9-month shortage is reduced from severe to serious, and the 12-month shortage from extreme to severe.

May rain did not prevent the rainfall total for 15 months falling to the record low value of 388 mm. The record, which had been set at 404 mm in 1912, has been broken three times in this drought: to 400 mm in September, 397 mm in April, and 388 mm in May.

Nearly all rainfall shortages at long and very long durations have been reduced to some extent. However, extreme shortages persist not only at 15-months, but also at 18-, 24-, 30-, 72- and 84-months.


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

Continue reading

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 and June 2019 data

Data for the following month, May 2019, is plotted in the same way in the post “May 2019 rain gives some relief“. See also “June breaks more drought records”.


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

Continue reading

March rain leaves drought extreme

Above-average rainfall in March reduced the shortage of rainfall in the last 3 months. It did not relieve extreme shortages at durations between 12 months and 7 years.

Rainfall status Feb-Mar 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 March, 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.]

Good rain in March

A rain front at the end of March 2019 that brought about 40 mm took the March total up to the average. This raised the 2-month and 3-month totals nearer to normal. It did nothing to increase longer-duration totals.

Extreme rainfall shortages

By February, six of the eleven rainfall shortages measured over durations from 12 months to 7 years were extreme. (That is, those totals were in the driest one percent in history.)
Despite the high rainfall of March, March figures also record six extreme shortages. The 18-month total is no longer extreme, but the 30-month total has now become extreme.
Two of the rainfall totals (plotted on the 0.1% line) are near-record low values. The 24-month total of 769 mm is the second lowest after July 1966 (766 mm). The 30-month total of 1078 mm is equal lowest with October 1966.
Data for February, plotted on the thinner line, show the record low values for 12 months (271 mm) and for 84 months (3672 mm).

The previous 24 months

The development of this drought through the previous 24 months is shown in the later post “Rainfall Shortage Sequence 03/2019”. A contour graph shows severity of shortage by contoured layer tints, with serial months on the x-axis and duration of shortage on the y-axis.


Further Explanation

[Update 5 April 2019.]

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

This graph is based on analysis of monthly rainfall totals from 1884. Using the spreadsheet application Excel, I calculate cumulative totals and their percentile values. Using these values, I identify rainfall shortages as serious, severe, or extreme .

Cumulative rainfall totals

I prepare two tables. The rows in each table are serial months, more than 1600 in total. The columns in each table are headed by the selected number of months, n, as specified below. In the first table I cumulate the rainfall totals. First, I add each month’s rainfall total to that of the previous month for a 2-month total. Using the previous two months, I get a 3-month total, and so on. In this way, I get n-month rainfall totals from n = 1 up to n = 360 (30 years). However, I calculate for only the following 25 values of n:

n = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96, 108, 120, 144, 180, 240, 360

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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

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The 2002 drought contour chart

Contour chart 2002 drought at Manilla NSW

The 2002 drought at Manilla was a failure of winter rainfall. [See Note below: “Manilla’s rainfall seasonality”.]

The top line of this contour chart shows that monthly rainfall shortages occurred in all the six months of winter rainfall dominance (April to September) of 2002. Shortages in May and July were severe, below the 5th percentile. In the summer rainfall months (October to March) that preceded and followed, rainfall was near or above normal. [See Note below: “Classes of rainfall shortage”.]

Lower down the contour chart, rainfall shortages of longer duration are shown. For droughts of 3 months duration, the rainfall shortage was extreme (1st percentile) by July 2002, as it included the serious shortage of May as well as that of July. In the same way, one sees extreme 6-month shortages in September and October, as all the monthly rainfall shortages since March added up.

By November 2002, one sees extreme droughts of 9 months and 12 months duration. The 9-month drought incorporated the consecutive months of below-normal rainfall from March to November. The extreme 12-month drought (307 mm) that was evident in November 2002 began earlier, with below-normal rainfalls in December 2001 and January 2002. That was the fourth driest 12-month period on record, after October 1965 (288 mm), August 1946 (302 mm) and November 1965 (304 mm).

The 2002 drought had no extreme rainfall shortages longer than 12 months. There were, however, some severe shortages of 18 months duration and some serious shortages of 24 months duration, due to some low rainfalls in the previous winter (2001).

By April 2003, hardly any serious rainfall shortages due to the 2002 drought remained. [See Note below: “Limitations of this analysis”]

More about the 2002 drought

Graph of monthly percentile rainfall in a droughtAnother approach to describing this 2002 drought is in the post “The 2002 rainfall shortages at Manilla”. That post has a graph showing selected monthly profiles of percentile values. It also links to two earlier posts with graphs of smoothed values of climatic anomalies.

The 2018 Drought

Drought 2018 contour chartA similar contour plot for the drought of 2018 reveals similarities and differences.


Note: Classes of rainfall shortage

Continue reading

An Extreme 24-month Drought

The 830 mm of rain that fell in the last 24-months is the lowest in 50 years.

Rainfall shortages September and October 2018 at Manilla

Graph of Rainfall Shortages

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

Changes this month

October rainfall that was normal (51.6 mm) also raised the totals for 2 months and 3 months, so they did not qualify as serious shortages. The 4-month total of 101 mm just qualified.
Extreme shortages formed a new pattern. In September, two values had been exceptionally low: the 6-month total had been the third lowest ever, and the 15-month total had been the lowest. By October, no rainfall was far below the 1st percentile value. They clustered at 12 months, 15 months, 18 months and 24 months.
As the 24-month rainfall shortage was extreme (below 840 mm), this became the worst 24-month drought in half a century. Extreme 24-month droughts had come in 1902, 1913, 1946, and 1966, but never since.


Further Explanation

Much more detail was given with last month’s graph of rainfall shortages, in the post: “Record 15-month Drought in 2018”. Notes include: “Long-term shortages”, “Classes of rainfall shortage”, and “Manilla rainfall records”.


Drought development plot

Drought 2018 contour chartThe development of the 2018 drought at Manilla is shown in the post “Contours of Manilla’s 2018 Drought”. The graph there shows contours of drought severity plotted against date and duration.