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Rockhampton left reeling after La Nina rains fail in Queensland

Ben Domensino, Tuesday March 9, 2021 - 17:00 EDT

La Niña has overlooked some towns and farms in Queensland this time around, with some places just enduring one of their driest starts to a year on record.

If you live in northern or eastern Australia, you've probably heard about La Niña. If you need a refresher, La Niña is a Pacific Ocean climate driver that's known for its ability to produce above-average rain, and often flooding, in northern and eastern Australia.

Unfortunately, the current La Niña event, which has been occurring since late September last year, hasn't lived up to its reputation over a big chunk of Queensland.

Video: The maps in this video show how much rainfall distribution has varied across the country during significant La Niña events of the past.

The latest drought statement issued by the Bureau of Meteorology this week reveals that rainfall deficiencies have intensified over the southeast quarter of Queensland during the past month. This continues a trend seen over the past year.

During the 11 months ending in February 2021, a large area of southeast Queensland experienced 'Severe' rainfall deficiencies. This means rainfall totals during this period were in the lowest 5-10 percent of historical records.

Unfortunately, the past 11 months have extended a multi-year dry spell that has been plaguing some areas of Queensland for years.

The map below shows that the 35-month period between April 2018 and February 2021 was the driest such period on record for parts of southeast Queensland.

Enduring a dry spell like this one is hard to deal with at any time. But to have it worsen during a La Niña just rubs salt to the wound.

As of 9am on Tuesday March 9, Rockhampton had only received 67.2mm of rain so far this year. This is the city's driest start to a year since 1965 and its 3rd driest on record. This is no mean feat, with rainfall data for Rockhampton available back to 1871.

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