DRI­EST YEAR... OR WAS IT?

Great Southern Herald - - Front Page - Shan­non Smith

Katan­ning likely recorded its dri­est year on record in 2018. How­ever, a mal­func­tion­ing rain gauge meant records were not kept for the first six months.

Katan­ning is likely to have had one of its dri­est years to date, how­ever it will not go down in the record books.

Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy cli­ma­tol­o­gist Yan­hui Block­ley said the bureau’s Katan­ning weather sta­tion un­for­tu­nately had a mal­func­tion­ing rain gauge for the first six months of 2018.

“So we wouldn’t be able to pro­vide its an­nual rain­fall to­tal. How­ever, we can take the nearby rain­fall site from the Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment (0.6km away) as a ref­er­ence, which recorded an an­nual rain­fall to­tal of 354.2mm,” he said.

“It was well below the long-term an­nual av­er­age, which is 479.2mm, in 117 years of record at Katan­ning Com­par­i­son, and it was the dri­est year since 2015, which was also very dry.”

The an­nual rain­fall to­tal at Nar­ro­gin was 500.9mm, very close to its long-term av­er­age of 493.6mm in 99 years of records.

Lake Grace rain gauge recorded no rain­fall for both June and July, key months in the grow­ing sea­son.

The an­nual rain­fall to­tals at Lake Grace were in­com­plete, how­ever an­nual rain­fall at Lake Grace was es­ti­mated be­tween 230mm and 250mm. The long-term av­er­age is 344.5mm in 20 years of records at Lake Grace and likely the dri­est year since 2010.

The to­tal rain­fall at Al­bany Air­port for 2018 was 589.8mm, al­most 20mm lower than the pre­vi­ous low­est read­ing of 606mm in 2014 and more than 200mm lower than the an­nual av­er­age of 798.1mm. Records there date back to 1963.

Al­bany town site re­ceived 701.2mm, with 2015 the dri­est year recorded, at 620.5mm. Records at the town site date back to 1877.

BoM spokesman Neil Ben­nett said 2018 had not only been a dry year but a warmer year on av­er­age.

“The ma­jor rea­son for low rain­fall was the very dry start to the year,” he said. “Very few rain sys­tems got into the area un­til early June. This was be­cause of the po­si­tion of the high that dom­i­nates WA weather for much of the year.

“It was slow to move north from March to June, re­sult­ing in the very dry con­di­tions from April and May. We then had a cou­ple of months of good rain­fall fol­lowed by a dry Septem­ber.”

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