How Much Rain Would End ‘Australia’s Big Dry’?
Many drought-stricken regions in Australia have finally received much-needed rain in recent days.
Parts of New South Wales (NSW) a state declared to be 100 per cent in drought - have enjoyed their best rainfalls in two years, according to meteorologists.
But while the drenching has provided some relief, forecasters say it is nowhere near enough.
Farming regions in NSW and Queensland have been bone dry for months years in some cases - meaning there is no quick fix to end the drought. So what would it take?
First, it depends on how you define drought
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) measures it in terms of “rainfall deficiency” - a period when precipitation is deemed to be below average.
This year, rainfall levels in NSW are among the lowest ever recorded over an extended period. In some areas, the state is the driest it has ever been. For the drought to end, some regions would need 200-300mm (8-12 inches) spread over at least three months, said BOM meteorologist Simon Grainger. That is more than the entire amount - 191mm - that the state has averaged since January.
So what has this month produced? Mr Grainger says some areas have had 2550mm, but others have missed out entirely.
“A single rain event is not itself enough to break the drought. You need sustained rainfall over months,” he told the BBC.
Unfortunately for farmers, the immediate odds are not good. There is only a 25 per cent chance of sufficient “above average” rainfall in the coming months, forecasters say.
It gets more complicated
Because it is governments, not meteorologists, which officially declare droughts. They consider other factors, such as the health of the agricultural industry.
Many farmers say the current dry is the worst in living memory. Lush pastures have turned to dust, and the soil is so parched that crops are struggling to grow.
Australian farmers affected by the drought.