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The causes of rainfall variations in southeastern Australia associated with three key El Niñ o years (1982, 1997, and 2002) are explored. Whereas 1982 and 2002 were exceptionally dry years, 1997 had near-average rainfall. These variations in rainfall can be explained by changes in the behavior of cutoff low pressure systems. Although each year had a similar number of cutoff low events, 1997 had higher rainfall per cutoff low event when compared with the other years. In particular, rain in 1997doi:10.1175/2009mwr3066.1 fatcat:mbey4675krdytlf54py6ftoe6y