Dri­est recorded spring in a cen­tury

The Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE - KATHRYN LEWIS [email protected]­lyex­am­iner.com.au

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

Pic­ture: Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy

DRY SPELL: Rain­fall across the Far North Coast was low­est on record.

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