Dry start to winter

July 04, 2017

The dry weather last month was accompanied by chilly mornings. Sue McIntosh captured this frosty image on Saturday morning at her Nathalia property.

Northern Victoria and the Southern Riverina have been hit by a record dry start to winter, following a promising autumn.

The Bureau of Meteorology says many stations across the north recorded their driest June since records began early last century.

Only 3mm fell in Shepparton, (average 44mm), Benalla recorded only 2mm (73), Echuca 1.2mm,(42mm), Deniliquin 2.2mm (35mm) and Kerang 1.2 mm (35.8mm).

It was a sobering start to winter, as June is often the wettest month, and a concern to croppers who want to build soil moisture.

Bureau senior meteorologist Scott Williams said areas including Echuca, Bendigo and Benalla had experienced very dry conditions.

‘‘What we have seen this June is very strong high pressure systems dominating southern Australia, and something like eight or 10 hectopascal anomalies,’’ Mr Williams said.

‘‘There have been very few low pressure systems affecting Victoria, normally this is peak time for east coast lows.

‘‘The other consequence is very cold nights with minimums rivalling 2006. It looks like we’ll be seeing more frosts ahead.’’

Senior climatologist Andrew Watkins said for the next few months we are likely to see a continuation of high pressure systems dominating.

‘‘The odds are about 70 per cent for having drier than normal conditions in July, August, and September,’’ Mr Watkins said.

‘‘It’s been a long time since we have seen patterns similar to this.’’

Quambatook farmer and VFF vice-president Brett Hosking said he was seeing a very dry June and he was relying on moisture build-up in the soil.

‘‘This creates some unease and cautiousness in decision making,’’ Mr Hosking said.

‘‘But maybe a slow start means a cracking finish.’’

He said farmers would modify their practices as the season progressed.

‘‘They will start to reduce input costs and adapt to the season.

‘‘Every time plants go under stress we lose some yield potential. There will be losses but it’s difficult to quantify (as this point).’’

Kialla dairy farmer Trevor Zanders said he was not panicking, but he wanted some solid rainfall soon.

‘‘We need some rain to stimulate the grass along,’’ Mr Zanders said.

‘‘The frost has dried things out, we are not desperate, but we need some rain to get it started.’’

He said it was a far cry from the conditions of this time last year, when he and other farmers were coping with an unusually wet winter.

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting showers across northern Victoria this week.

Rainfall was nearly non-existent in June, with eight towns across northern Victoria and Southern Riverina recording well below June averages.

The towns of Shepparton, Echuca, Deniliquin, Benalla, Mangalore, Yarrawonga, Tocumwal and Kyabram all recorded less than 4mm across the first month of winter compared to the June averages, which ranged from 29.9mm in Deniliquin to 52.8mm in Mangalore.

The lack of wet weather saw many stations across the north record their driest June since records were first kept.

However, the dry spell is set to end this week with showers forecast right through until Sunday.

June rain v averages

SheppartonJune 2017, 3.6mm

(June average, 38.1mm)

Echuca1.2mm (41.1mm)

Deniliquin2.2mm (29.9mm)

Benalla2.4mm (50.6mm)

Mangalore3.4mm (52.8mm)

Yarrawonga2mm (41.2mm)

Tocumwal 1.8mm (43.6mm)

Kyabram2.2mm (40.1mm)


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