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NSW Drought In Perspective

August 19, 2018

By Paul Homewood


Just a couple more comments on the NSW drought.


I have worked out the YTD rainfall in NSW, although this is a pretty artificial measure. This year is the fourth lowest on record, behind 1902, 1965 and 1940 (in that order).




If we look at the 12 month figures, this year ranks as 8th driest, behind 1901, 1902, 1919, 1927, 1929, 1940 and 1965.




It is easy to see why how farmers say this is the worst drought in memory, because it is exactly that. Whereas these sort of severe droughts used to come along every decade on average, there has been nothing like it since 1965.


This year the drought has been largely confined to parts of NSW and South Australia:




This certainly was not the case in some of those earlier droughts, which were far more extensive:




  1. August 19, 2018 12:37 pm

    Thanks Paul. These BOM maps show dramatically the extent of the 1902 drought in eastern Australia. Nothing like that has been repeated in the past century, although the severity of drought at specific locations may have been more severe in later years.

    Seems like the Australian drought of 1902 had strong similarities with the US Midwest drought of the 1930s. Does anybody know the synoptic situations that caused these two mega-droughts?

    • Broadlands permalink
      August 19, 2018 1:07 pm

      In the US the driest six months (Jan-July) was in 1934…. 310.6 mm. 1988 was second, 311.4 mm. But most of the driest six months were in the 1930s or before. Source: NOAA, NCDC.

  2. August 19, 2018 1:01 pm

    Like a lot of “climate change” stories, this seems to be based on comparison with weather since the 1960’s and not with earlier weather.
    It may turn out that it is the weather since the sixties is unusual, and current weather is a reversion to before that.
    It underlines the importance of dealing with raw data, when available, rather than human memory.

  3. Jeff permalink
    August 19, 2018 1:18 pm

    When you have the 6 month drought map

    and 18 month map

    showing large areas of worst on record then it is severe.
    And we have had no significant rain in August yet.

    I thought that Telegraph article was fairly reasonable and accurate.

    • Broadlands permalink
      August 19, 2018 3:43 pm

      Jeff… There have been many “severe” droughts in many places over the centuries. The point of such articles is to try to put the blame on all of us for using carbon for our energy…even if it changes to a severe flood, an extremely cold winter or extra hot summer.

      • Jeff permalink
        August 20, 2018 1:24 am

        Broadlands… there was no mention of CO2 or man made global warming.
        In a long article it had one quote that mentioned climate change –

        ” judgement that ultimately [has] got to be made about the sustainability of agriculture in certain parts of the country in the face of climate change,” economist Saul Eslake told Fairfax Media.”

        And almost everyone agrees the climate is changing.

  4. Michael Ioffe permalink
    August 19, 2018 3:36 pm

    Australia – a small continent surrounded by OCEANS and drought. Sound like joke and can be a joke, if scientists of climate change will not put ahead deadly wrong agenda, that greenhouse gasses are responsible for climate and climate change.
    Please, return to reality – PROPERTIES OF WATER are cooling the atmosphere, despite water vapor is a greenhouse gas;
    – as lighter than most gasses in air they help LIFT ALL GASSES to upper troposphere, where energy of ALL GASSES is going to space easy, than from ocean level;
    – clouds, snow, and ice reflect back to space direct sun radiation.
    Is it not enough to cancel wrong idol?
    Using properties of water we can easy make any weather and climate disasters – history.
    And we can do it during few years.

  5. A C Osborn permalink
    August 19, 2018 4:54 pm

    They should sue India for stealing their rain. /sarc off

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