THE high number of thunderstorms to start 2019 have filled the region’s rain gauges beyond normal levels, but not in the volume required to break the drought.
Brett Dutschke, a senior meteorologist with www.weatherzone.com.au, said Orange and other Central West centres have seen more than their fair share of wild weather in January and the first week of February, bringing above-average rainfall readings.
According to weatherzone, the first nine days of the month saw 62 millimetres of rain in Orange, just 15 millimetres shy of the long-term average for the entire month.
While the storms of January failed to bring excessive rain to Orange, yielding an average 61.6 millimetres, Bathurst registered 154.5 millimetres, well in excess of its long-term mean of 67.8 millimetres.
We need longer-lasting rain to add more significant moisture at lower depths of soil.Brett Dutschke, senior meteorologist with www.weatherzone.com.au
Lithgow, Oberon, Canowindra, Cowra, Young, Grenfell and Narromine also recorded more than their average monthly rainfall in the first 31 days of the year.
Mr Dutschke said while the rain added a bit of moisture to the top-most layer of paddocks, it was not “sufficient to break the drought” in the more heavily-impacted areas.
“We need longer-lasting rain to add more significant moisture at lower depths of soil,” he explained, adding that evaporation in recent dry days was higher than normal and was negating the effects of the rain.
Mr Dutschke said the rain was hit and miss in many areas, with Parkes, Forbes and Nyngan receiving less than their monthly average rainfall last month.
Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said despite the storms, about 99.8 per cent of NSW remained in drought.
“Some areas observed the lowest January rainfall totals in more than a century, while others received their lowest totals in 20 years,” Mr Blair said of January’s data.
“Heat records were also broken, with 90 per cent of NSW experiencing the warmest January in history.
“This heatwave has exacerbated the effects of the ongoing drought and further compromised the ability of areas that have received rainfall to make any significant improvements.”
About 36 per cent of NSW is in intense drought, 44 per cent is in drought and 18 per cent is drought-affected.
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