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Chart of the day: is this the most severe drought in history?

Catherine Hanrahan, Monday August 6, 2018 - 15:22 EST
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In 2018, autumn rainfall was the lowest since the 1902 Federation drought. - ABC

Australia is no stranger to droughts, so how does the current big dry across southern Australia compare historically?

The chart below shows autumn rainfall compared to the long-term average, going back to 1900.

In 2018, autumn rainfall was 57 mm below average, the driest autumn since the 1902 Federation drought.

But the 2017-18 year overall was not one of the driest on record — there were 19 other years that were drier.

This drought is severe but has not been as prolonged as the millennium drought — the longest dry spell in history, which saw nine consecutive years of low autumn rains, crucial for the southern cropping season.

The numbers are based on the average autumn rainfall from 1961 to 1990, which was 102.3 mm.


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