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Ben Domensino, 25 Mar 2024, 5:39 AM UTC

Melbourne's driest March on record looking likely

Melbourne's driest March on record looking likely

Melbourne has only had 2 mm of rain so far this month, and with little prospect of precipitation over the coming week, the city could be on track to registering its driest March in 170 years of records.

As of 9am on Monday, March 25, Melbourne’s official rain gauge at Olympic Park had only registered four days of rainfall so far this month, amounting to a paltry total of 2.0 mm. This is well below the city’s long-term March average of about 50 mm.

This month’s lack of substantial rainfall has been caused by unusually high pressure to the south and southeast of Australia in recent weeks. These areas of abnormally high pressure have helped to block the passage of rain-bearing cold fronts and low pressure troughs in Melbourne and other areas of Victoria.

Image: Mean sea level pressure anomaly for the first 22 days of March in 2024, showing abnormally high pressure to the south and southeast of Australia. Source: NOAA

Large areas of central and western Victoria have received less than 20 percent of their average March rainfall, despite being 25 days into the month. Some areas haven’t even collected 5 percent of their March average, including Melbourne, Ballarat and Bendigo.

Image: Observed monthly rainfall percentages as of 9am March 25. Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Melbourne’s forecast for the rest of March doesn’t offer much hope for parched parks and gardens across the city. The best chances of rain over the coming week will be around Wednesday or Sunday, but neither of these days are looking too promising for substantial rainfall at this stage.

If Melbourne makes it to the end of the month without picking up another 1.7 mm of rain, this will become the city’s driest March on record, beating the current record of 3.7 mm from March 1934.

You can track Melbourne’s daily rainfall here to see how much the city collects before the end of March.

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