Rainfall predictions overstated but recipients grateful

Bureau of Meteorology predictions overstated but recipients grateful


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Neil Anderson, Poowong, at Leongatha recently.

Neil Anderson, Poowong, at Leongatha recently.

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When the rain came it was driven by an icy wind which left snow on the alps.

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South Gippsland farmer Neil Anderson runs 80 hectares of green pasture at Poowong, and also a cattle station outside of Longreach, Queensland.

As a 16 year-old, Mr Anderson visited Longreach and was smitten, and wanted to own a cattle station in the area.

Now, at eighty years-of-age, Mr Anderson said he had owned four stations, but is now down to one.

Mr Anderson said the property, which once carried up to 4000-head, hasn’t seen rain for more than seven years.

In 2016, only nine cattle were roaming the property.

Does this make our drought any less significant?

Maybe so, but it does not make it any less devastating.

Every producer would have been waiting with anticipation for the deluge that was predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) last weekend.

Many comments have since been made about how wrong the Bureau got the forecast, despite it indicating the slow-moving front, from the depths of Antarctica, was hard to predict.

The heavily laden front found its first landfall at southern Tasmania, and at this point it let go, flooding Hobart and its surrounds.

From Hobart, the storm tracked almost due north, and which, for Victoria and the Riverina, it left mixed results in its wake.

The Western District received between 25 and 78 millimetres, while the Mallee remained dry.

Dennis Henderson said he had 6-8mm at his Echuca farms.

Any variation between these two districts could be seen across most of Victoria and the Riverina.

East Gippsland producers have been in drought for months, if not a full year, and were waiting desperately for the rain.

Bryan Hayden, ‘Buchan Station’, Buchan, received 43mm.

“It is a good start, but we need a lot more,” Mr Hayden said.

The forecast for Buchan and its surrounds was 150mm, but that amount could have done more harm than good in one quick downpour.

While the high country of East Gippsland desperately needed rain, especially leading into the cold winter months, the Omeo district didn’t need the heavy blanket of snow they got Friday morning.

While the melting snow will create some green, livestock will suffer in these extremes of a warmer than normal autumn, to a sudden winter blast.

Much of Victoria, from Gippsland through to Wodonga, got between 15-35mm of rain over the two-day period.

However topography aided some heavier falls around the ranges, some reports exceeded 70mm.

Will this have a great effect on conditions? Maybe not.

Some runoff has occurred, but for some, too much was damaging to dams with dirt and debris being washed into them.

Any rain gives hope, and this was reflected on the faces, and in the voices of producers attending Leongatha, Bairnsdale and Mortlake store sales last Thursday and Friday.

The BoM predict rainfall from May-July being between 50-200mm for much of Victoria, with far East Gippsland and the alpine region, anywhere up to 400mm.

This is over 12 weeks, and is still below average for this period.

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