Monsoon relief continues to elude dry north

Beef Central, 11/02/2013

A low pressure system brought the heaviest rain in nearly two years to some parts of northern Australia over the weekend, but most producers across the tropics continue to face pressing livestock marketing decisions as the prolonged dry spell continues.  

A low and associated trough brought showers and storms to tropical parts of the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland over the weekend.

To 9am Saturday some of the heaviest falls were in the Darwin-Daly district where Foelsche Headland recorded 75mm, its highest daily rainfall in a year.

Other falls quoted by WeatherZone included 70mm at Sleisbeck, while Wyndham Airport in the WA Kimberley recorded 67mm, its highest daily rainfall since April 2011. The downpour included “a whopping 36mm” in just 16 minutes.

WeatherZone says the area of low pressure that brought the rain is expected to linger and deliver widespread daily totals of 10-20mm with isolated falls of up to 50mm expected.

The weekend rain fell well short of delivering the relief cattle producers need after what has been a below average wet season across most of tropical Australia.

Darwin has recorded just 549mm since the beginning of October, around half the total during the same period during the 2011/12 wet season.

The Weather Channel senior meteorologist Tom Saunders said the drier than normal wet season was initially the result of a late monsoon, but is now being sustained by an extended monsoon break.

“After migrating south to Australia's mainland for two weeks during mid-January the monsoon trough has now weakened and retreated north to the equator,” Mr Saunders said.

“While monsoon breaks occur each year the current spell is likely to last until at least the end of February. This will prevent widespread heavy tropical rain and cyclones for at least a few weeks.”

With the exception of those lucky enough to be under one of the scattered storms that has materialised in recent weeks, conditions remain very hot and dry for northern producers.

In North-west Queensland, producers left disappointed when Cyclone Oswald tracked closer to the coast than expected a fortnight ago and left many dry areas of the inland untouched by rain are facing increasingly serious decisions, according to livestock agent Luke Westaway from TopX in Hughenden.

“It is getting very hot and dry, and we’re expecting that some serious marketing decisions will be made on cattle over the next fortnight which will obviously have an effect on the market in time,” Mr Westaway said.

“Hopefully with the rain that has been had, there is available agistment and buyers will be there there to purchase the stock that may become available.”


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