Hopes high rain will relieve dry north and south

James Nason, 28/02/2012

Click on image at bottom of article to view map in larger detail.With parts of northern Australia experiencing a dry wet season, and southern paddocks rapidly trying off with a return to a traditional hot and dry summer, there are high hopes that forecast rainfall this week will bring much needed seasonal relief.

Parts of northern Australia are still yet to experience meaningful rain, after what appeared to be an early start to the northern wet season last November fizzled out.

Areas south of Katherine including the Sturt Plateau are among the worst affected and are in serious need of relieving rainfall.

Some producers who burned large sections of grass country in anticipation of the northern wet season are yet to receive required rainfall and are now desperately short of feed.

It is so unseasonal dry in places that a lot of graziers are now looking to start their first round musters, which usually wouldn’t start until Easter.

In the south conditions are rapidly drying off with the return of a more traditional hot, dry southern summer.

While parts of Victoria such as the Gippsland are enjoying a good season, many other parts are now finding it difficult to hold condition on stock.

“Unless you have got fodder crops, irrigation or stubble, I don’t think you would be putting any weight on, and the cattle may be starting to go backwards,” Elders southern region livestock manager Scott Altschwager said.

He said that a lot of people were now considering feeding cattle to carry them through to the autumn break.

Some parts of the north have received good rain over the past week (see weekly rainfall map attached) while more rain is expected to fall across southern and central regions of the continent this week.

The Weather Channel issued the following forecast update last night:

“A slow moving low pressure trough extends from central Australia down through South Australia, western NSW and Victoria, and is interacting with moist tropical air to produce widespread rain and thunderstorms through all these areas.

“A low-pressure cell is expected to develop on this trough over South Australia on Wednesday and this will move southeast across Victoria on Thursday.

“This succession of events will generate a widespread and heavy rain event over the next 4 days, extending from the Kimberly district in WA to northeast Victoria. Widespread falls of 50 to 100 mm are indicated from the northwest corner of South Australia to northeast Victoria with 100 mm plus totals embedded in this.

“Another pulse of tropical moisture is then expected to move down through central Australia from Thursday to Sunday, generating further widespread totals of 50 to 100 mm through the NT and SA.

“The resulting 7-day totals indicate a wide band of 100 mm plus totals extending from around Alice Springs to Sydney, with inland flooding likely, extending southwards into Victoria as well.”

Numerous flood watches have been issued for several NSW, SA, Victorian and ACT river systems in anticipation of this event and a severe weather warning for flash flooding has also been issued for large areas of Victoria and NSW.

In the meantime, further significant falls are expected along the central and northern Queensland coast over the next week, particularly over the tropical north where heavy falls are likely. Flood warnings continue for several Queensland southern and central coastal river systems.

In complete contrast, hot and dry weather over the southwest corner of WA is resulting in severe fire dangers over the coastal subdistrict of the Central West.


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