Drought Sixth Month: August 2018

Rainfall status, July and August 2018.

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 August, are shown by a black line with black circles. Those from one month earlier, at the end of July, are shown by a thinner line with smaller white circles.
The classes of rainfall shortage are:
• Serious shortage: below the 10th percentile;
• Severe shortage: below the 5th percentile;
• Extreme shortage: below the 1st percentile. [See note below on my usage “Extreme shortage”.]

Changes this month

Rain late in August raised the one month and two month rainfall totals out of the class of “serious shortage”. The total for August (28.2 mm) is at the 40th percentile for the month, and the total for July and August is at the 10th percentile. The three-month total, which had been an extreme shortage, fell to become only a severe shortage.

Extreme shortages

Extreme shortages, seen less than 1% of the time since 1883, are now seen for the durations of 4, 5, 6, and 15 months. Without last week’s rain, the 6 month total would have been one of the lowest ever recorded.
There is an extreme shortage at 15 months, due to low rainfall in mid-2017, in the months of July (13.2 mm), August (13.8 mm), and September (5.5 mm).

Long-term shortages

The 6-year rainfall total for August (3252 mm) is a severe shortage, only slightly above that of July (3234 mm). Both these values are lower than any 6-year rainfall totals since 1962. When rainfall shortages of such long duration persist, rainfall does not maintain the groundwater levels or river flows required for irrigation or town supply.


Note: The term “Extreme shortage”

I have adopted classes of rainfall shortage from the classes of “Rainfall deficiency” defined by the Bureau of Meteorology in their Climate Glossary as follows:

“Serious rainfall deficiency: rainfall lies above the lowest five per cent of recorded rainfall but below the lowest ten per cent (decile range 1) for the period in question,
“Severe rainfall deficiency: rainfall is among the lowest five per cent for the period in question.
“Areas where the rainfall is lowest on record for the given time period are also shown.”

The Manilla rainfall record allows me to be more exact than the Bureau. Because the record extends back 134 years, it includes more than 1200 cumulative monthly rainfall values. I can identify percentile ranks even below the 0.1th percentile.
To the Bureau’s two classes of deficiency I add a third:

“Extreme deficiency (or extreme shortage): rainfall lies below the lowest one percent for the period in question.”

July 2018 had deep frosts

A young kurrajong tree

Kurrajong in Drought

There were warm spells at each end of the month. Between them, fine cool weather was marked by black frosts with temperatures down to -4.6°. That is colder than had been seen in the sixteen years since 2002. With the freezing nights came extremely low early-morning dew points that beat the previous record value of -10.0°. The new dew point record set on the 22nd was -11.4°.
Six days had light rain. The wettest, on the 6th, registered only 3.2 mm (estimated).

Weather log July 2018

Comparing July months

Despite two nights being below -4°, the number of frosts (17) was normal, as was the mean daily minimum temperature (1.8°). Days, however, set a record mean maximum of 19.2°, making the daily temperature range (17.4°) very high. Other variables were also typical of drought: both cloudy skies (only 19%), and the early morning dew point (-4.0°) were record low values for July. This month was very like July in the drought year of 2002.

The rainfall total of 8.6 mm (estimated) was at the 12th percentile. Persistent low monthly rainfall values have carried the 3-, 4-, and 5-month totals down well below the 1st percentile that marks extreme rainfall shortage. Other totals now classed as “severe shortages” include the six-year total.

Climate in July months

Developing Drought

The rainfall shortages that have now become extreme are covered in other posts, such as “Drought Fifth Month: July 2018”.


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.  The record was defective for July. Ten daily readings were missing. In addition, 1.0 mm was registered on the 20th when no rain or dew was seen. I have substituted my non-standard gauge readings for all days of July.

All other data, including subsoil at 750 mm, are from 3 Monash Street, Manilla.

Drought Fifth Month: July 2018

Rainfall status June and July 2018

Rainfall shortages at June and July 2018.[Note 13/8/18. The large graph above is an  amended graph. Values in mm are unchanged, but percentile values have been recalculated. The 4-month and 5-month percentile values now plot as less extreme than before. The original graph is on the right.]

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 July, are shown by a black line with black circles. Those from one month earlier, at the end of June, are shown by a thinner line with smaller white circles.
The classes of rainfall shortage are:
• Serious shortage: below the 10th percentile;
• Severe shortage: below the 5th percentile;
• Extreme shortage: below the 1st percentile. [See note below on my usage “Extreme shortage”.]

[A graph showing shortages at the end of August is in a later post: “Drought Sixth Month; August 2018”.]

Extreme shortages

At Manilla, the drought is now extreme by several measures.
At the end of July 2018, rainfall shortages are extreme for 3 months (15 mm), 4 months (33 mm) and 5 months (58 mm). “Extreme shortage” means that Manilla has seen such shortages less than 1% of the time since 1883.
Since the end of June, rainfall totals have fallen lower for periods of 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9 months. The 5-month total fell most remarkably. It had been 121 mm, not even a “severe” shortage (below the 5th percentile), but merely a “serious” shortage (below the 10th percentile). It has now fallen to only 58 mm, which is an “extreme” shortage (below the 1st percentile). It is not much higher than the lowest ever 5-month rainfall total of 29 mm, a record set 130 years ago in 1888.

The graph makes it clear that we are now in the fifth month of an extreme drought.

Long-term shortages

At this date, there are no extreme rainfall shortages measured over periods longer than five months. However, there are some severe shortages below the fifth percentile rank. Should rainfall continue to be below average, these shortages could also become extreme. The current twelve-month total of 346 mm needs to fall only 19 mm (to 327 mm) to become an extreme shortage. The 6-year rainfall total (3234 mm) is a severe shortage lower than any since 1962. Rainfall shortages measured over periods of a year or more will not maintain groundwater levels or river flows.


Note: The term “Extreme shortage”

I have adopted classes of rainfall shortage from the classes of “Rainfall deficiency” defined by the Bureau of Meteorology in their Climate Glossary as follows:

“Serious rainfall deficiency: rainfall lies above the lowest five per cent of recorded rainfall but below the lowest ten per cent (decile range 1) for the period in question,
“Severe rainfall deficiency: rainfall is among the lowest five per cent for the period in question.
“Areas where the rainfall is lowest on record for the given time period are also shown.”

The Manilla rainfall record allows me to be more exact than the Bureau. Because the record extends back 134 years, it includes more than 1200 cumulative monthly rainfall values. I can identify percentile ranks even below the 0.1th percentile.
To the Bureau’s two classes of deficiency I add a third:

“Extreme deficiency (or extreme shortage): rainfall lies below the lowest one percent for the period in question.”

 

Rainfall Deficiencies IV: 120-months Duration

Log of severe and extreme rainfall deficiency of 120-month duration at Manilla This is the fourth of four graphs that show Manilla’s history of rainfall deficiencies (rainfall droughts), for periods of duration 3 months, 12 months, 36 months, and 120 months.

This fourth graph includes those periods of severe or extreme rainfall deficiency that last one-hundred-and-twenty months. They are rainfall droughts that affect about ten successive years.

(As I note below, in this series, a time of severe rainfall deficiency is one that is drier than the 5th percentile of cases, and a time of extreme rainfall deficiency is one that is drier than the 1st percentile of cases.)

In Manilla’s climate, a time of severe 120-month rainfall deficiency has a rainfall total less than 5860 mm, when it normally would be 6390 mm: that is, through the 10-year period, there is as an average a rainfall deficit of 53 mm each year. A time of extreme 120-month rainfall deficiency has a rainfall total less than 5670 mm: that is, through the 10-year period, there is as an average a rainfall deficit of 72 mm each year.

Even more than three-year droughts, these ten-year droughts have quite different effects to those that are shorter. The importance of severe and extreme rainfall deficiencies of 120-month duration is that even very large surface and sub-surface reservoirs may not be adequate to supply demand through to the end of the drought.

The graph shows that such ten-year droughts hardly occurred earlier than 1915 or later than 1955, but were confined to that 40-year interval. While deficiencies of this duration were twice as common as normal (5%) in the decades around 1920 and 1925, it was the decades around 1945 and 1950 that were extraordinary: 26% of all months had a severe rainfall deficiency of this duration.

Again, extreme 120-month droughts generally comprised about one-fifth of the total, as one might expect (unlike the case for one-year droughts).

Areas shown on the graph

Rainfall deficiencies are called “severe” when they are lower than are recorded for five percent of the months. I have called deficiencies “extreme” when they are lower than are recorded for one percent of the months. In this graph, I have coloured extreme deficiencies in blue. The maroon colour is deficiencies that are severe, but not extreme. The top edge of the maroon area marks the proportion of severe deficiencies including extreme deficiencies. As an average, this line is at five percent.

Data analysis

Continue reading

Rainfall Deficiencies III: 36-months Duration

Log of severe and extreme rainfall deficiency of 36-month duration at Manilla

This is the third of four graphs that show Manilla’s history of rainfall deficiencies (rainfall droughts), for periods of duration 3 months, 12 months, 36 months, and 120 months.

This third graph includes those periods of severe or extreme rainfall deficiency that last thirty-six months. They are rainfall droughts that affect about three successive years.
In Manilla’s climate, a time of severe 36-month rainfall deficiency has a rainfall total less than 1505 mm, when it normally would be 1940 mm. A time of extreme 36-month rainfall deficiency has a rainfall total less than 1380 mm.
Droughts of this duration have quite different effects to those that are much shorter.
While the 3-month drought that just qualifies as “severe” (by having rainfall in the fifth percentile) would have a rainfall total of 50 mm, in the similarly defined 36-month drought, each 3-month period within it would have, on average, a rainfall total of 125 mm (i.e. 1505*3/36). This 3-month rainfall total is only 25 mm less than the normal 150 mm total. It would scarcely be noticed if it did not persist for 36 months.
The importance of severe and extreme rainfall deficiencies of 36-month duration is that they use up the reserves that are held in surface and sub-surface water storage.

In the Manilla rainfall record, such three-year droughts were concentrated in just a few decades. They were very common around 1910-1915 and 1945 (in more than 12% of months) and in 1965 (in 9% of months). They were very rare or absent (less than 2% of months) before 1900, from 1925 to 1935, and in the entire forty years since 1975.
Extreme 36-month droughts generally comprised about one-fifth of the total, as one might expect (unlike the case for one-year droughts).

Areas shown on the graph

Rainfall deficiencies are called “severe” when they are lower than are recorded for five percent of the months. I have called deficiencies “extreme” when they are lower than are recorded for one percent of the months.
In this graph, I have coloured extreme deficiencies in blue. The maroon colour is deficiencies that are severe, but not extreme. The top edge of the maroon area marks the proportion of severe deficiencies including extreme deficiencies. As an average, this line is at five percent.

Data analysis

Continue reading

Rainfall Deficiencies II: 12-months Duration

Log of severe and extreme rainfall deficiency of 12-month duration at Manilla

This is the second of four graphs that show Manilla’s history of rainfall deficiencies (rainfall droughts), for periods of duration 3 months, 12 months, 36 months, and 120 months.

This second graph includes those periods of severe or extreme rainfall deficiency that last twelve months. They are rainfall droughts that affect four successive seasons, sometimes making for two failures a year apart.
In Manilla’s climate, a time of severe 12-month rainfall deficiency has a rainfall total less than 400 mm, when it normally would be 640 mm.
The graph shows that such one-year droughts were very common around 1945-1950 and 1965-1970 (in 8% of months) and also 1905 (in 7% of months). They were not common (only 2% of months) around 1885, 1890, and 1980. Recently, around 2015, there have been none at all.
Remarkably, extreme 12-month rainfall droughts (in blue) were almost as common as severe ones in the long period from 1940 to 1975.

Note added June 2015

I have analysed a remarkable and unexpected relation between days of heavy rainfall and the frequency of year-long droughts at Manilla (as graphed here) in a series of posts:
More droughts After Heavier Rains I.
More droughts After Heavier Rains II.
More droughts After Heavier Rains III.

Areas shown on the graph

Rainfall deficiencies are called “severe” when they are lower than are recorded for five percent of the months. I have called deficiencies “extreme” when they are lower than are recorded for one percent of the months.
In this graph, I have coloured extreme deficiencies in blue. The maroon colour is deficiencies that are severe, but not extreme. The top edge of the maroon area marks the proportion of severe deficiencies including extreme deficiencies. As an average, this line is at five percent.

Data analysis

Continue reading

Rainfall Deficiencies I: 3-months Duration

Log of severe and extreme rainfall deficiency  of 3-month duration at Manilla

This is the first of four graphs that show Manilla’s history of rainfall deficiencies (rainfall droughts), for periods of duration 3 months, 12 months, 36 months, and 120 months.

This first graph includes those short periods of severe or extreme rainfall deficiency that last only three months. They are rainfall droughts for one season rather than for a year or more. Crops and pastures may fail.
In Manilla’s climate, a time of severe 3-month rainfall deficiency has a rainfall total less than 50 mm, when it normally would be 150 mm.
The graph shows that such short-term droughts have occurred in every decade, but more often in some than in others. These brief droughts were most common (in 7% of months) around 1915, 1920 and 1970. They were least common (in only 3% of months) around 1895, 1935, 1940, 1955, and (more recently) in the twenty years since 1995.
Extreme short-term droughts (3-month total less than 26 mm) were more common near those times when severe short-term droughts were more common.

Areas shown on the graph

Rainfall deficiencies are called “severe” when they are lower than are recorded for five percent of the months. I have called deficiencies “extreme” when they are lower than are recorded for one percent of the months.
In this graph, I have coloured extreme deficiencies in blue. The maroon colour is deficiencies that are severe, but not extreme. The top edge of the maroon area marks the proportion of severe deficiencies including extreme deficiencies. As an average, this line is at five percent.

Data analysis

Continue reading