Southern Australia just had its driest January to July on record, but parts of Victoria have been very dry for much longer.
Rainfall from April 2018 to July 2019 was in the lowest 10 per cent of historic records for most of Gippsland and the Mallee, and parts of the north central and north.
At the same time, much of NSW and eastern SA had severe rainfall deficiencies. In some places, the 16-month April-July rainfall was the lowest on record.
Both the West Gippsland and East Gippsland rainfall districts are driest on record for the 31-months from January 2017 to July 2019.
The drought has been exacerbated by very high temperatures which have increased evaporation and demand on existing water resources.
2019 is currently tracking as Victoria's (and Australia's) warmest on record for daytime temperatures.
For Australia as a whole, the past 12, 18, 24 and 36 months have seen the highest maximum temperatures on record.
The Bureau is aware of the difficult conditions being faced by farmers and communities in affected regions and will closely monitor the situation to provide the best information possible.
The current three-month outlook shows a high likelihood of drier and warmer than average conditions continuing, with climate drivers unfavourable for widespread above average rainfall in spring.
Generally speaking, several months of above average rainfall is needed to break a drought or ease the dry conditions.
When both a community and the surrounding environment have enough water to meet needs, a drought can be considered over.
However, the financial and social impacts can last long after the rain has returned.
Drought is a feature of Australia's climate and continues to be driven by natural variability.
However, southern Australia has experienced a long-term rainfall decline, so natural variations are now occurring on top of an increasingly dry climate.
And the current drought is occurring during a period of record warm temperatures which has exacerbated conditions.
These record temperatures are closely aligned with global warming trends.
The decreasing rainfall and increasing temperature trends mean it's becoming harder to replenish water reserves.
In the future, Victoria will likely spend more time in drought.
- Jonathan Pollock, Bureau of Meteorology climatologist