No rain till Christmas

A RESPECTED meteorologist has delivered the grimmest possible news for struggling local farmers – don’t expect any widespread rain until Christmas.

Martin Babakhan, a consultant meteorologist and conjoint lecturer in the faculty of science and IT at the University of Newcastle, said, much like last 

summer, the spin-off from monsoonal weather had not occurred.

With sea temperatures off the east coast of Australia at present the warmest they had been “in history” and the monsoonal weather not pushing south from Indonesia, we were “running out of time” for a good fall of rain before the monsoonal influence eased off by March, he said.

From now until February 9, it would be as “dry as you could ever expect” and any thunderstorms would “mean nothing”, with no substantial rain.

Some storms from February 17-21 would also be fairly insubstantial, he said, and it would be dry until the end of February.

“This drought is a hydrology drought – there’s not enough rain to have the run-off into the catchment,” he said.

By July, August and September, neutral conditions – neither a strong swing to La Nina (wetter conditions) nor El Nino (dry) – would start “weakening ... to a level of El Nino.”

Only from December would La Nina conditions prevail.

“This is how nature works,” Mr Babakhan said. 

Bureau of Meteorology climate prediction services manager Andrew Watkins said the seasonal forecast was for “average conditions, but the odds are very slightly on the drier-than-average side”.

“There’s a 55 per cent chance of drier-than-normal conditions,” Mr Watkins said.

Even with a tropical cyclone forming in the Coral Sea, it was hard to say whether it would push southwards, he said.

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