Fifty percent of state drought declared Dave McRae 22nd April 05
The 30-day average of the SOI continues to fluctuate and as of the 2nd April has dropped back in negative values to minus 7.6. Given the potential for an El Niño to develop later this year, it will be very interesting to see if a 'Consistently Negative' SOI pattern over the next couple of months.
As mentioned previously there are a number of 'warning signs' that suggest the development of an El Niño in 2005 is a real possibility. While by no means a certainty (El Niño events usually develop in late autumn leaving some time for conditions in the Pacific to change) given the evidence, our policy remains to recommend a cautious approach when considering the longer-term outlook this year. We are now in 'El Nino-watch status'.
To find out more on conditions in the Pacific try the Bureau of Meteorology "El Niño wrap up" at www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/ or the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction at http://iri.ldeo.columbia.edu/news/monthlyproduct.html or the US Climate Prediction Centre at www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/ For the latest sea surface temperature maps have a look at www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/ or at www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au/
As of the 18th April, there are 45 shires and 8 part shires drought declared under State government drought processes. This is approximately 50.8% of the land area of the State. There are also 128 Individually Droughted Properties (IDPs) in a further 21 shires. Many local drought committees are also in the process of meeting this month.
The Queensland Government currently provides assistance to primary producers affected by severe drought. Information regarding drought declarations can be obtained from your local DPI Stock Inspector or the Rural Risk Strategies Unit.
The Rural Risk Strategies Unit is responsible for the payment of drought freight subsides, collating drought situation reports, processing recommendations for Shire/Area drought declarations, developing applications for Exceptional Circumstances assistance from the Federal Government and advising the Minister on seasonal conditions within the State. The unit can be contacted through the DPI&F Call Centre on 132523 or on (07) 3239 3181.
For a full list of drought declared shires and the latest seasonal conditions report go to www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au/
For those looking for more rain the latest passage of the MJO crossed over Australia in early April. It did help trigger some reasonable rainfall events but the bigger falls were largely confined to the coastal strip. There were some inland rainfall events but these were fairly isolated and patchy in nature. It is next expected in late May.
For more information call the DPI Call Centre on 13 25 23 or (07) 3404 6999.