Australia & New Zealand: Water deficits persist in Darwin, Tasmania, Perth, New Caledonia
26 June 2017
The Big Picture
The 12-month composite map (below) presents some areas of severe to exceptional deficits throughout most of Australia’s Northern Territory, in Perth and its hinterlands in southern Western Australia, and over the balance of Tasmania, as well as New Caledonia.
Surpluses are forecast for small pockets of the Northern Territory as well as the central coastal region of Queensland extending from just west of Bundaberg to inland MacKay.
Rainfall deficiencies over the past three months in western West Australia continue to be of concern to the agricultural sector, with good reason: 35 percent of the country’s wheat and 48 percent of its canola is grown in Western Australia. With the west facing drought, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences is predicting that the nation's canola production will be 11 percent below the previous five-year average and wheat production 8 percent below.
A recent downpour near Perth failed to alleviate fears. The West Australia Farmer's Federation says the drought has affected 5,000 farm businesses in the region. The Regional Men's Health Initiative has responded with mental health outreach events in dry areas of the wheat belt.
Heavy precipitation in the form of rain and snow hit New Zealand. In the Far North region of North Island, rainfall cut power, flooded roads, and closed schools. In the south, snowfall canceled and delayed flights between Auckland, Queenstown, Dunedin, and Tauranga; and, shut down part of State Highway 94 at Fiordland National Park. Inter-island ferry services were canceled due to poor sea conditions.
The 3-month maps (below) for the same 12-month period show the evolving conditions.
As the time series indicates, conditions through central Australia should moderate in the coming winter while deficits are expected to continue extending into November in the Darwin region, near Perth in southwest Western Australia, over Tasmania, and the island of New Caledonia. Deficits may continue in the region of Perth through February while moderating across most of the region. The recent surpluses in the Northern Territory and Queensland are expected to continue through the November forecast period.
(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)
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