Summer climate summary available. Dave McRae, Qld Climate Change Centre of Excellence, 24 March 2009.
The Bureau of Meteorology has recently released the climate summary for summer (December 2008 to February 2009) www.bom.gov.au Wetter than average conditions were experienced throughout much of the northern tropics, while average to drier than average conditions were experienced throughout much of southern Australia.
Temperatures also matched this pattern with cooler than average temperatures experienced across northern Australia and warmer than average conditions experienced across southern Australia.
According to the Bureau, rainfall area-averaged across Queensland for summer was the 6th highest on record based on figures since 1900. It is worth noting however that this is a result of well above average rainfall events across the northern half of the state. Rainfall recorded across most of the southern half of Queensland for summer was average to below average. For example, Oakey on the Darling Downs recorded 108mm for summer. This compares to its long term summer average of 252mm. Another way of looking at this is that Oakey only recorded 43% of its average summer rainfall.
Despite recent rain throughout much of central and northern Queensland drought declarations under state government processes remain stable.
Drought declarations in Queensland are made following recommendations from the local drought committees to the minister. The local drought committees also make the recommendations to the minister for drought declarations to be revoked. This occurs when in their opinion there has been sufficient rainfall to promote enough pasture growth to permit stocking at 'near-normal' carrying capacities for the given time of year.
There will be a review of the drought declaration status of all regional councils/shires at the end of the summer rainfall season. For a full list of drought declared shires and a seasonal conditions report go the Long Paddock internet site www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au
Other information on the current drought situation and available financial assistance, drought planning advice, social, and community counselling services can be found at www.dpi.qld.gov.au/drought/ or through the DPI Call Centre on 132523.
The 30 day average of the SOI as of the 23 March has fallen to plus 2.5. In terms of input into management decisions for the rest of 2009 it would be worthwhile to watch SOI and SST trends over coming months. For example at this a time of year, SOI values are not really a major concern. However if the SOI where to trend into strongly negative values and remain there through to the end of autumn it would be a warning sign for a likely dry winter/spring.
You can receive a text message with the latest SOI values sent to your mobile phone. To subscribe to this free service, call (07) 4688 1459. For more information on the seasonal outlook, go to www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au