Warmer than average temperatures and average rainfall have been forecast for the Southern Highlands in coming months.
The Bureau of Meteorology released its quarterly seasonal outlook for summer and predicted warmer than average temperatures, average rainfall, low streamflows and low soil moisture, all amounting to a continuation of drought conditions for the foreseeable future.
BoM’s head of long-range forecasts, Dr Andrew Watkins said the Southern Highlands had experienced serious to severe rainfall deficiencies since April 2017 and would need to see several months of above-average rainfall to completely break the drought.
“Currently, the region is not looking at getting above average rainfall in the near future, so we need to look at autumn or beyond for that drought-breaking rain to come,” Dr Watkins said.
Moonacres Farm in Fitzroy Falls was likely to have shut down by January before recent rainfall replenished near-dried-up dam stores.
Owner and manager Phil Lavers said the farm’s two dams were at 0 per cent and 15 per cent, but have recovered to 100 per cent and 85 per cent respectively which should see them through to winter 2019.
However, Dr Watkins cautioned that while recent heavy rainfall was a welcome respite, BoM forecasts suggest it is unlikely to continue throughout the summer.
“Recent rainfall that we have had is one of those more random weather events, not necessarily a sign of things to come unfortunately,” Dr Watkins said.
“Our models are not expecting to have a summer of extreme events like that. The odds are very likely to have a warmer than normal summer – an 80 to 90 per cent chance of having a warmer than normal summer, and that increases evaporation,” he said
The Southern Highlands has experienced lower than average rainfall for the year so far, with Mittagong running 35 per cent below average and Moss Vale 40 per cent.
The current positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has been a significant contributor to dry conditions in south-eastern Australia but is expected to decay by early summer. El Nino outlook remains at ‘alert’.
BoM forecasts no strong swing to wetter or drier than averages conditions over the next few months.
Serious rainfall deficiencies have continued for inland NSW, where strong winds over dry soils kicked up several large dust storms in recent weeks.
The BoM reported higher than average spring temperatures, which resulted in “one of the warmest springs since records began more than 100 years ago.”
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