Driest recorded spring in a century
THE closure of a beloved Clarence business is a stark reminder of the severe and dire conditions the region faces after what was the driest spring in more than 100 years for parts of the Clarence.
The spring climate summary released by the Bureau of Meteorology on Monday revealed the dire numbers, with 27.9mm recorded at Harwood Island throughout spring. The previous record lowest rainfall was 35.4mm in 1915. The average for the area is 279mm.
At Grafton research station, 25.4mm was recorded, beating the previous low in 1951 when 41mm fell. The average rain for the region in spring is 179mm.
“New South Wales has had the third-driest first 11 months of the year on record and the driest since 1940,” the report said.
“Every month in 2019 apart from March has seen markedly less rainfall than average.”
On Saturday, Southgate’s Big River Milk dairy announced the drought had crippled the business and the owners had made the difficult decision to shut up shop.
The pinch has been felt across the state, with the sixth driest spring on record and extreme heat in November saw heatwave conditions across most of the state.
Early in the month, temperatures climbed to 38C in Grafton, the highest maximum for the month, with 24 days above average temperatures.
Spring began with warm temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds — the perfect storm for fire weather that has brought devastation to the Clarence Valley and beyond.
And the hot, dry and potentially dangerous weather isn’t going anywhere.
“Unfortunately for NSW, things are still looking warm and dry for the summer period,” Bureau of Meteorology head of long-range forecasts Andrew Watkins said.
Dr Watkins said there was a more than 80 per cent chance summer would be drier and warmer than normal. “The key culprit for our current and expected conditions is one of the strongest positive Indian Ocean Dipole events on record,” he said.
“A positive IOD means we have cooler than average water pooling off Indonesia, and this means we see less rain-bearing weather systems, and warmer than average temperatures for large parts of the country.”
Dr Warkins said hot, dry winds were also expected to continue throughout December and January.
“UNFORTUNATELY FOR NSW, THINGS ARE STILL LOOKING WARM AND DRY FOR THE SUMMER PERIOD DR ANDREW WATKINS
DRY SPELL: Rainfall across the Far North Coast was lowest on record.