Long regarded for its reliable winter rainfall, the Southwest region of Western Australia was beset by unexpected dry conditions in the early 1970s whose persistence was baffling. The gradual growth of scientific interest in the region's rainfall, as this article contends, was strongly influenced by political, social, and economic concerns about the challenges posed by drought and climate change. The experience of rainfall decline coincided with international scientific and political interest in the global climate and the perception that it was deviating from its "normal" state. Indeed, this extended "dry" provided an Australian link to international concerns regarding anthropogenic global warming. This article argues that the historical, political, and economic importance of the Southwest's agricultural industries has led policy makers and researchers to perceive the region's changing climatic conditions as pathological and in need of diagnosis.