Unsettled weather this week is likely to bring “losers and winners” as rainfall of at least 50mm is expected to fall along the length and breadth of Great Dividing Range and surrounding slopes by Friday.
The passage of a cold front accompanied by at least two low pressure systems, a trough and a moist air feed from heavy tropical activity north will bring unpredictable weather from Tuesday to many parts of NSW.
At this stage, most of central NSW is forecast to get rain, but Weatherzone forecaster Kim Westcott said because of the complicated range of weather systems involved, the rain forecasts may differ substantially from day to day this week.
“We advise people to check daily as the forecasts may differ substantially,” she said. “There may be heavy rain from storms in some places but only a little rain nearby.”
At this stage it is predicted storms will start in NSW from Tuesday and stick around until at least Friday. Some of these are likely to be severe with heavy falls and high winds. Ms Westcott said the other benefit from the potential for rain is that towns like Bourke that will see temperatures soar over 40 degrees early this week, will fall down to a more comfortable 27 degrees by Friday.
The Bureau of Meteorology rainfall model suggests some areas in the tablelands and areas of NSW will collect up to 100mm in the eight-day rainfall chart looking forward.
Ms Westcott said a low would form somewhere between central NSW and Victoria in the next couple of days and anyone nearby would collect rain or winds. “It is actually hard to predict where it is going to be the wettest. We think though that some of these thunderstorms will bring quite heavy rain and that may occur right along the ranges and to the east – all up and down the Great Dividing Range. We are moving into an unstable period. It won’t end the drought but it may fill up a few dams.”
Farmers could only wish for some of the rain that has been falling in Far North Queensland after a low that was formerly Cycle Owen moved across the coast dumping 500mm in a few days at Cardwell, and over 250mm in many other parts. That low is expected to move in to the Gulf of Carpentaria and may form into another cyclone.
Meantime, last week the Department of Primary Industries put NSW on high alert for continuing dry times during most of summer. It said drought conditions had re-intensified across much of NSW, particularly in the west of the state, despite isolated rainfall throughout the month.
In its Seasonal Update for November, the DPI said with conditions warming into summer, regional NSW remains on a high level alert with continued hand feeding and stock water shortages following a failed 2018 spring season.
DPI’s Leader of Climate Applications and Digital Agriculture, Anthony Clark said on ground conditions are highly complex, due to storm rainfall patterns that have been passing across NSW.
“Areas around Walgett, Coonamble and Broken Hill received low rainfall in November and have now experienced prolonged intense agronomic dry conditions for over 12 months,” Dr Clark said.
“The continuation of the drought means stock water levels remain critically low across large parts of NSW, particularly in the Western, North West and Central West regions.
“During November, scattered storms provided above 100mm in the Central Tablelands, Greater Sydney and South East regions, with high falls also recorded in the Alpine zone.
“Isolated areas in parts of the coastal Hinterland, southern Central and Northern Tablelands are faring better than most with positive signs of strong pasture growth.
“In late November a large low pressure system provided over 100mm of rainfall in parts of the Sydney Basin through to Wollongong, but the benefits will not be seen for some weeks and given its geographic distribution, it will not significantly change the state-wide drought.”
The Bureau of Meteorology rainfall outlook for December to February indicates that there is a near equal chance, 40-60 percent, of wetter or drier that average conditions across most of NSW. There is an increased chance of warmer than average daytime and overnight temperatures across all of NSW.
Strong drying winds after the good rain two weeks ago dried out many areas, although follow up rain this week may lead to some good run-off to help fill up dams.