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Remember these? The last 10 El Nino events have been a pretty mixed bag. Some brought mayhem and misery, while we barely noticed others.

2009/10 A weak to moderate event, the overall effect on Australia was low. May to October 2009 was dry over much of the country. The El Nino strengthened in November but paradoxically this ushered in a wet period over eastern Australia.

2006/07 Another weak event, but this time most of the country was strongly affected, with low rainfall between May and December 2006. Southern Victoria and northern Tasmania were particularly dry, setting records for lowest falls. Lightning sparked The Great Divide Fires in December 2006, the longest-running bushfires in Victoria’s history. They caused the worst bushfire smoke on record, and there were further widespread fires in New South Wales.

2002/03 A weak to moderate El Nino, but boy did we feel it! A major drought affected almost the whole country from March 2002 to January 2003. Exceptionally warm conditions led to severe bushfires in NSW, Canberra and Victoria, along with widespread water shortages.

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1997/98

1987/88

The strongest El Nino since the start of the 20th century, but Australia escaped relatively unscathed. There was below average rainfall in many areas from April 1997 to March 1998, but crops benefitted from some widespread falls. From April 1998 onwards rainfall was consistently above average in eastern Australia.

A moderate to strong event but with generally weak impact. Victoria, NSW and Queensland had average to above-average rainfall from May 1987 to January 1988. Parts of Tasmania, pockets of Gippsland and the southwest corner of WA fared worse.

1994/95

The second strongest event on record was brutal, with drought widespread across eastern and southern Australia. In February 1983 heatwave conditions led to the Ash Wednesday bushfires, which resulted in the deaths of 75 people in Victoria and SA. The drought ended abruptly the following month with floods across central and southern Australia.

A strong event, with significant impact. For 10 months rainfall was in the lowest 10% of recorded totals across most of Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia, northeast Tasmania and southern Western Australia. Very heavy rain and flooding occurred in many areas in January 1995, effectively ending the event.

1993/94 A moderate event, this El Nino never really got started. There was average rainfall across eastern Australia for much of the period and large parts of NSW and Victoria recorded totals in the highest 10% for the six months from July to December 1993.

1991/92 A moderate to strong El Nino, with a strong effect in some areas. Queensland and northern NSW suffered drastically reduced rainfall. Further south, totals were average to above-average.

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August/September 2015

1982/83

1977/78 A moderate El Nino, with moderate to strong impact. But it didn’t last long. For the six months from June to November 1977 recorded rainfall totals were in the driest 10% for most of NSW, the southern half of Queensland, patches of northern Victoria and northern Tasmania, and scattered regions in WA and SA. The situation eased with above-average falls in January 1978.

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