How not to admit a mistake

Well that explains everything I guess.  Not.

Here is the reply to my query to the Bureau regarding the claim that 2014 saw “the worst drought in 80 years.”

Dear Ken,
Thank you for your email.
The Bureau’s official publicly available Drought Statement is online at
Climate Analysis Section
National Climate Centre – Bureau of Meteorology 

Short, sharp, but not exactly to the point.

The relevant paragraphs from the Drought Statement read as follows (my bolding):

It is generally difficult to compare one drought to another, since each drought differs in the seasonality, location, spatial extent and duration of the associated rainfall deficiencies. Additionally, each drought is accompanied by varying temperatures and soil moisture deficits.

The current drought in Queensland is comparable to the 2002–2003 drought, which was perhaps more severe in terms of rainfall deficiencies that occurred at times over a very large area. Historical data shows that the current drought is perhaps a one in ten or twenty year event over a significant part of inland eastern Australia (see for example the 24-month deciles map for 2013–2014), but very severe in some places. For example, some location in central Queensland the present deficiencies are the most severe on record, and in addition have been accompanied by record high temperatures. See: 24-month maximum temperature deciles map for 2013–2014.

Nowhere can I find any reference to “the worst drought in 80 years” or rainfall deficiencies not seen “across Queensland at least since the 1927- 1929 depression drought” or “37.3% of the state… covered by the lowest rainfall on record”.  Also included in the Drought Statement is this map showing 27 month rainfall deficiencies:

qld drought 27m

Perhaps 37% is covered by serious deficiency, but not the lowest on record.So are they admitting the reports were wrong?  I don’t think so.

I will email them again asking for a specific reply, preferably Yes or No, to the questions:

Was Mr Jeff Sabburg correct in saying “In terms of rainfall deficiencies the comparison is we haven’t seen this across Queensland at least since the 1927- 1929 depression drought”?

Was Mr Sabburg correct in saying “37.3% of the state was covered by the lowest rainfall on record”?

If the answer to either of these is “No”, will the Bureau immediately issue a correction in a media release?

I live in hope.


Tags: ,

10 Responses to “How not to admit a mistake”

  1. siliggy Says:

    “For example, some location in central Queensland the present deficiencies are the most severe on record,…”
    Good to see they have the singular and plural thing sorted out.

    Just for fun I decided to see how a 36 month comparison would go.

  2. kenskingdom Says:

    Yes, the drought has lasted about two and a half years. Before that it was very wet.

  3. Mareeba Property Management Says:

    Ken, about your last paragraph: In Italy they say “Chi vive sperando muore cantando” meaning: Who lives in hope dies singing!!! I think it apply to both of us, hoping for an answer from BOM…

  4. Ian G Says:

    The annual summary for Queensland is interesting in that it doesn’t mention much about the drought at all. The only comments I can find are the following:
    ‘Rainfall was especially low in the southeast, southwest, central west and parts of the northern and central coasts, with some areas recording rainfall totals in the driest 10% of years.’
    ‘Below-average annual rain in most areas, except the Gulf Country and western Cape York Peninsula.
    Below-average rain in the southeast in most months.’

    There’s nothing in the summary’s main points or ‘Notable events in 2014’ about it being the worst drought for nearly 100 years.
    It notes the 6 cyclones (none of which were above Cat 2) but not a ‘37% lowest on record’ event which Sabburg wanted to highlight.
    Check here at:

  5. paul Says:

    i have noticed at adelaides BOM site

    and i quote

    Please note that a number of Bureau stations ceased observations at various times from mid-December 2014 onwards. Options for replacing missing observations with observations from alternative sites are being investigated, where possible. Please check back periodically for updates on progress.

    I guess the temperature is now going to get much warmer around here

    • kenskingdom Says:

      Well picked up. You can’t even trust current observations. I have almost zero faith in any BOM temperature data, and not 100% in rainfall data.

  6. Peter C Says:

    9 days now since your follow up email to the BOM. Any reply?

    • kenskingdom Says:

      Email on Friday said “Sorry for the delay, we are following up on your enquiry and will get back to you shortly. ”
      Hard to find wriggle room when you want it.

  7. BOM Admits “Inaccuracy”! | kenskingdom Says:

    […] A Reality Check on Global Warming « How not to admit a mistake […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: