Waiting for autumn rain By JUSTIN JENVEY
AFTER above average rainfall totals in the previous two months, February has been one of the driest on record.
Less than two millimetres of rain has been recorded across the Alpine Shire and it could be weeks until significant falls result.
Bendigo based seasonal risk agronomist for the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources Dale Grey said the seasonal break generally happens from any time in March and on average is somewhere around Anzac Day.
“At the moment the consensus is that the breaking rain is likely to come in April,” he said.
Although temperatures this month have been similar to January with the mercury regularly hitting the high 30s and even entering the 40s the major difference has been the lack of rain.
Following a downpour that brought about 30mm of rain on the final day of January, rain has fallen on just a few days since.
Rain registered at TAFCO’s Porepunkah weather station three times, the latest exactly a week ago with 1.4mm last Wednesday morning.
In Myrtleford the only sprinkle, 0.6mm came on February 4, while in the Kiewa Valley TAFCO’s Coral Bank location has seen rainfall just twice, totalling 0.8mm.
The figures are in stark contrast to last February when around 100mm was recorded in Myrtleford and Porepunkah and just under 50mm at Coral Bank and were above normal with the average rainfall for February just below 65mm according to Bureau of Meteorology statistics from 1969 to 2013.
The lowest February totals recorded by the BoM were no rain for Myrtleford in 1926 and just 3mm for Bright in 1982 at their now defunct weather stations.
The hottest days this month came on February 25 for Myrtleford and Coral Bank with the temperatures rising to 41.2 degrees and 36.8 degrees respectively.
While the warmest day for Porepunkah came a day earlier on February 24, and peaked at 37.8 degrees.
Mr Grey said even with February being extremely dry summers are becoming wetter while other seasons are also changing.
“In many parts of Victoria autumn and spring is where we are seeing deficiencies in rain compared to the normal and we are maybe seeing a bit more summer rain compared to normal and winter might be close to or below normal,” he said.
“We know three things going forward, a wetter summer and drier spring have been predicted into the future and we seem to be seeing that.
“A dry autumn is a bit more contentious as to what in fact is causing that, we haven’t seen much evidence for what in particular is causing that later seasonal break so it could be something that’s just variability or something more permanent.
“A good early break in March or April used to happen quite regularly in the past but seems to be evading us.”
THE LONG DRY CONTINUES: Crops being watered at Barwidgee Creek on Monday as the long dry spell continues to impact on farmers.