Rain drops are falling on my head…this familiar tune has been on everyone lips recently. At least on the east coast of Australia. This may be an unusual melody this time of the year as spring is associated with a sense of lightness, spring racing carnivals and sunshine.
However, the rain falling from grey skies in the last couple of weeks has been music to many people ears as the October wet spell is following the driest September on record.
September received less than a third of the rainfall typical for the month, stretching out the drought that is seriously worrying for many farmers, firefighters and the community at large. Most areas of eastern Australia have been desperate to receive some rain. This is true for almost the whole of Australia, which has received below average rain fall across the board, with many areas being severely affected. Previously, September 1957 held the record as the driest September, but the September 2018 has broken this record.
Country Victoria only received a third of its normal rainfall during September. Some regions in country New South Wales have not seen rain for over 12 months. New South Wales is drought declared; forest and soils are severely dried out, creating a fertile ground for bush fires but an unfavourable environment for growing anything, e.g. crops. Australia’s food bowl, The Murray-Darling Basin, have had its driest year (January – September) since 1902. In QLD some parts in the regional areas have not seen rain in several years, and 60% of QLD state is drought declared.
Keeping the above in mind, there is no wonder that there is some sense of relief with the recent rainfall but as the saying goes; it never rains it pours – in some parts. As an example, when it finally rained some towns in NSW received more rain in 24 hours than what they had received for the entire year whilst other areas received no rain at all. The recent rainfall offers hope but is not enough to break the drought – New South Wales and Queensland are in essence still bone dry. More recently south east Queensland has received heavy rains along with damaging winds.
Curiously one wonders, what is the weather outlook for the rest of the year? Predictions suggest that 2018 is likely to be one of the top-10 year driest and warmest on record. In the instance of El Nino forming in the Pacific later this year, The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has forecast a 70% chance of an El Nino event. The result of this is the drought could possibly be exacerbated by shifting rainfall away from eastern Australia.
So, whilst raindrops are falling on some of our heads, the distribution of rain is uneven and although concentrated, a scarce phenomenon 2018. A rain dance is not likely to yield the desired the results, yet, there are ways that we can harvest rainwater* in preparation for a less rainy day.
*More information rainwater harvesting can be found in these previously published blog articles:
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