Manilla’s Yearly Rainfall History

Lately, Manilla’s rainfall is normal, and more reliable
than it ever was.

Manilla yearly rainfall record, 21-yr smoothed

Yearly rainfall totals

The first graph helps to make sense of the history of Manilla’s rainfall, using the totals for each year. The actual figures make little sense, jumping up or down from one year to the next. The figures here have been calmed down. First, I replaced each yearly figure by an average of twenty-one years, ten years before and ten years after the date. Then I smoothed that figure some more.
The pattern is plain. There were periods in the past when there was much more or less rain than usual.
In four decades the rainfall was some 30 mm higher than normal: the 1890’s, 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s. In four other decades, the rainfall was some 30 mm lower than normal: the 1900’s, 1910’s, 1920’s and 1930’s.
Rainfall here collapsed about 1900. The collapse was was widespread, as was recognised half a century ago.

Using the average line drawn across the graph (at 652 mm), you can see that rainfall was below average from 1902 to 1951: almost exactly the first half of the twentieth century. After 1951, rainfall was above average for the 44 years to 1995. Since then, the annual rainfall (as plotted) has been remarkably close to the 132-year average.
Present rainfall will seem low to those who remember the 1970’s, but the 1970’s were wet times and now is normal. Few alive now will remember that Manilla’s rainfall really was much lower in the 1930’s.

Manilla yearly rainfall scatters.

Yearly rainfall scatter

The second graph also groups the data twenty-one years at a time. It shows the scatter of yearly rainfalls in each group. More scatter or spread means the rainfall was less reliable. Comparing the graphs, times of high scatter (very unreliable rainfall) were not times of low rainfall, as one might think. Annual rainfall scatter and rainfall amount were not related.
Times of very unreliable rainfall came in 1919 (dry), 1949 (normal) and 1958 (wet). Times of reliable rainfall came in 1908 and 1936 (both dry). However, by far the most reliable rainfall came since 1992, extending to 2004 and likely up to this year.

Global warming

It has been argued that human-induced climate change will cause climatic extremes to happen more often in future. Already, when any extreme climate event is reported, someone will say that climate change has caused it.

The present steady rise in global temperature began about 1975. Does this Manilla rainfall record show more extreme events since that date? Definitely not! Quite the contrary. Continue reading

Is There Any Drought Now?

No. In Manilla just now, there is no drought of any kind: not a short drought, a medium-length drought, or a long drought; not an extreme drought, a severe drought, or even just a serious drought.

A new comprehensive graph of the severity of drought at one site.

In this graph, each line of data points is for one particular month. The middle line, joining the red squares, shows the whole rainfall drought situation for last month: September 2016.
This is a new kind of graph. (See Note 1 below.) It can show how severe a drought is, not only during the last month or two, but during the last year, and during the last many years. That is a lot of information.

How to read the graph

A month of extreme drought would have data points very low down on the graph. The scale on the left side is amount of rainfall. It must be a “percentile” value. For example: if the amount of rain that fell is just more than has been seen in the driest 5% of all months, it has a value in the 5th percentile. (See Note 2 below.)

Along the top and bottom of the graph I have plotted a number of months.
The number does not show time passing. It shows the number of months I included in a calculation. For each month on record I did many calculations. I added up the total rainfall for:
* the month itself;
* two months including the previous month;
* three months including the month before that;
* … and so on.
I found the totals for larger groups of months extending back as far as 360 months (30 years).
Using all these rainfall totals, I calculated percentile values to plot on the graph. For example, for groups of 12 months, all groups of 12 consecutive months are compared with each other, to find the percentile value of the 12-month period ending in a given month. (See Note 3 below.)

Which months had the most drought and least drought?

The worst drought there could ever have been would be one with data points along the bottom line of the graph. In such a disastrous month, all the rainfall totals would be the lowest on record, not just the one-month total, but also the two-month total and so on up to the 360-month total. Every one of them would be the lowest total on record. It has never been as bad as that.
The “best” time, in terms of being free of drought, would be a month with all its data points along the top edge of the graph. For that month, every rainfall total, for a short period or a long period, would be the wettest on record.
From the Manilla rainfall record, I have chosen to display the most drought and the least drought that actually occurred.

The most drought: August 1946

The month of August 1946 had no rain. Of course, that was the lowest rainfall for any August month (One among 13 months on record that had no rain.). As a result, the percentile rank for that month’s rainfall is zero. Most totals for groups of any number of months ending in August 1946 are also on the “zero-th” percentile, that is, the lowest on record. Thus, it was an extreme drought in the short term, medium term and long term.
For this month, percentile values that are above the third percentile occur in the totals for 48, 60, and 72 months, as shown. These figures, while not extremely low, were still well below normal (Normal is the 50th percentile.). They occur because these totals include some wet months in 1940, 1941, and 1942.

The least drought: March 1894

March 1894, with 295 mm of rain, was one of the the wettest months ever, ensuring a 100th percentile value. The rainfall totals for groups of months ending in that month included six other “wettest ever” values, and all other groups of months were also very wet. No group of months was below the 95th percentile. (See Note 4 below.)

Current drought situation (September 2016)

This month’s rainfall total of 122.4 mm puts it in the 92nd percentile of all monthly rainfall values, far above the median value marked as “normal” on the graph. The 2-month rainfall total (203 mm), and the 4-month rainfall total (350 mm) are almost as high, each in the 90th percentile.
Continue reading

Rain Days at Manilla: I.

Rain per rain day graph

The annual pattern of rain day rainfall

In Manilla, the mean pattern of rainfall on rain days through the months of the year is simple and regular. This pattern can be worked out from the 125-year rainfall record of Manilla Post Office, Station 055031, beginning in 1883.
The graph above shows that, on the average, on a day when rain falls in January, the total in the day is about thirteen millimetres. When rain falls in July, the total in a day is about half of that: that is, six and a half millimetres. The pattern through the year is close to a perfect harmonic cycle, with a maximum in the third week of January, (four weeks after the longest day) and a minimum exactly six months later, in the third week of July. Only two of the monthly readings do not match the pattern well: January has about one millimetre more than would fit the curve, and December about half a millimetre less.
Of course, most people in the district realise that heavier rain falls in summer, but few would know any details. I do not think that the Bureau of Meteorology has ever worked through these figures. [See note below about the use of “rain days” in the Bureau.]
This very simple pattern of mean rainfall per rain day is the more remarkable because it comes from two other patterns that are not so simple.

MeanRainEachMonthThe second graph is the pattern of monthly rainfall totals through the year. Manilla has two peaks of rainfall volume in the year. The major peak comes in the last days of December, a few days after the longest day, and a minor peak just six months later, at the end of June. Winter is marked, not by a minimum of rainfall, but by a secondary maximum. Much more detail is given in the post “A seasonal rainfall model for Manilla”
and in the post “Manilla 30-year Monthly Rainfall Anomalies”.

The final graph shows simply how many days of rain there are in each calendar month, on the average. This pattern is quite strange. Most months of the year have about six rain days. April has fewer: Continue reading

No rain, and no rain gauge

A very long spell with no rain

My town, Manilla NSW, may be having one of the longest periods without rain in 133 years. We will never know.

The records of the Manilla Post Office rain gauge, No. 055031, show that the longest periods without rain were as follows:
1. August 1946: 62 days;
2. April 1912: 55 days;
3. Apr-May 2002: 47 days;
4. August 1914: 46 days;
5. May 1927: 45 days;
6. Mar-Apr 1980: 44 days;
7. April 1925: 43 days;
8. August 1982: 42 days;
9=. March 1896: 41 days;
9=. August 1995: 41 days;
11. March 1934: 40 days;
12. April 1942: 38 days;
13. March 1981: 37 days;
14. March 1955: 36 days.
To judge by my rain gauge, we have had a rainless period that is already equal seventh longest since 1883. Today, rain bands are passing through, but perhaps no rain will fall in my gauge. There may be several rainless days yet.

My gauge not valid for Manilla

Photo of dry wedge-type rain gauge

My rain gauge

The photo shows my personal rain gauge. It is dusty because it has been dry for the last 43 days.
Whether it rains in my gauge today or not, my reading cannot count in the record for the town of Manilla. It is as if it is this dry spell is not happening.
My gauge is very simple and not precise. It is hard to read to parts of a millimetre. I bought a cheap one, because there is no point in having a precise rain gauge in my yard. The yard is too sheltered to meet the Bureau of Meteorology standard. My house is also a kilometre away from the Post Office.

Manilla’s failed rainfall record

Rainfall was first recorded at the Manilla Post Office in March 1883. The record of readings was essentially unbroken through 132 years until the 26th of March 2015. There are towns with longer rainfall records, but not very many.
Continue reading

The 2002 rainfall shortages at Manilla

Graph of monthly percentile rainfall in a drought

In 2002, Manilla had a 6-month drought with one of the most extreme rainfall shortages on record. In nearly fifty years since 1966 there have been no other shortages like it.

I have discussed this drought in two posts: “Profile of an Extreme Drought”, and 3-year trends to August 2004 (An extreme 1-year drought).

This post is about the rainfall record only. It compares the percentile values of rainfall totals for groups of months: one month, two months, and so on. The graph shows how the drought began, developed and faded. Other droughts may go through similar stages. I have plotted the pattern of rainfall shortages month by month, showing only even-numbered months. I have plotted them in different colours, with matching “Call-out” labels.

April 2002 (Red): no drought yet.
In April, the monthly rainfall was slightly below average: in the 40th percentile. In this month, nearly all rainfall totals up to the 42-month total were also below average. Only the 6-month total was above average. This set up the conditions for a drought. Notice that rainfall totals for periods longer than 42 months were all well above average. This hardly changed at all in this year. There had been a lot of rain in previous decades.

June 2002 (Orange): 2, 3, and 4-month droughts.
When May rainfall was in the 1st percentile and June rainfall in the 25th percentile, the June 2, 3, and 4-month totals became serious or severe shortages (below the 10th percentile).

August 2002 (Green): 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9-month droughts.
With July rainfall again in the 1st percentile, and August rainfall in the 26th, the drought became extreme. The 4, 5, and 6-month totals were in the 1st percentile: few months had ever had such low figures.

October 2002 (Blue): 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18-month droughts.
September and October both had rainfall in the 18th percentile. That relieved the short-term shortages somewhat, but not those in the medium term. Shortages in the 4, 5, and 9-month totals were in the 1st percentile, but the 6-month total was very much worse. At 76 mm, it was the third driest on record, beaten only by August 1888 (43 mm) and September 1888 (69 mm).

December 2002 (Purple): only 9- and 12-month droughts remain.
November rainfall that was near average (40th percentile) and high December rainfall (84th percentile) broke the drought. Only some longer-term effects persisted as severe rainfall shortages in 9- and 12-month totals.

El Niño and My Climate

ENSO and Manilla NSW temperature anomalies over sixteen years

Temperature

The first graph shows that the temperature at Manilla NSW agreed very closely with El Niño and La Niña temperatures for a good part of the last sixteen years.
The El Nino – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is shown by NINO3.4 monthly anomaly values, and temperature at Manilla, NSW is smoothed monthly mean daily maximum temperature anomalies. (See the Note below.)
Values of Manilla temperatures agree with those of ENSO through the major temperature peaks and troughs in the spring seasons of 2002, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010. In the two highest peaks of 2002 and 2009 and the deep trough of 2010, Manilla temperature extremes were more than a month ahead of ENSO temperature extremes.
Since mid-2011, the two curves do not agree well:
* A La Nina in summer 2011-12 that was very weak produced the deepest of all troughs in Manilla temperature.
* An El Nino in winter 2012 resulted in heat at Manilla, but not until four months later.
* In spring 2013, when there was no El Nino at all, Manilla had a heat wave just like those with the El Nino’s of 2002 and 2009, .
The record for ENSO since January 2013 is unlike that earlier this century: it flutters rather than cycles.
To show slower changes, I have drawn cubic trend lines for both of the variables. These also agree closely, with ENSO going from a maximum (2004) to a minimum (2011) seven years later. Manilla temperature trends remained ahead of ENSO temperature trends by one or two years.

Rainfall

ENSO and Manilla NSW rainfall anomalies over sixteen years.

Continue reading

February Climate Anomalies Log

Heat indicators log for February

This post is the twelfth in a set for the 12 calendar months that began with March. Graphs are sixteen-year logs of the monthly mean anomaly values of nine climate variables for Manilla, NSW, with fitted trend lines. I have explained the method in notes at the foot of the page.

Raw anomaly values for February

Extreme values of February anomalies were as follows:

Daily Maximum Temperature Anomalies (3) -4.2 deg: February 2008; -3.3 deg: February 2012; -3.3 deg: February 2013;
Daily Mean Temperature Anomalies (1) -3.3 deg: February 2008;
Rainfall Anomalies (1) +120 mm: February 2012;
Dew Point Anomalies (2) -4.6 deg: February 2014; -4.6 deg: February 2015.

Trend lines for February

Heat Indicators

All heat indicator quartic trends began slightly low and ended slightly low. They had a low peak about 2004, and a trough later. The trough was deepest and earliest for daily maximum temperature (2011), followed by daily mean temperature in 2012, daily minimum temperature in 2014, and subsoil temperature in 2015 or later.

Moisture indicators log for February

Continue reading