It’s hot, it’s dry and it’s not ending

Dr Andrew Watkins has given an insight into the potential for rain and cooler temperatures.
Dr Andrew Watkins has given an insight into the potential for rain and cooler temperatures.

It’s been a long, hot start to 2018 for the central west, and the bad news is there are no real signs of significant rain or a drop in temperatures.

Dr Andrew Watkins, the manager of long-range forecasts at the Bureau of Meteorology, said a weak La Nina pattern has failed the deliver expected summer falls.

And with the ‘wet pattern’ on the way out, he concedes there may be a battle for farmers searching for good, consistent rain in the lead-up to sowing their winter crops.

“Over the last couple of weeks the La Nina has declined reasonably quickly,” Dr Watkins said.

“In fact, the pattern has been very weak and will only just scrape past the definition of being a definite La Nina.

“What we have experienced is less than our models actually suggested, it’s been a disappointing pattern from that perspective.

“A moderate or strong La Nina would give rainfall and cloud, which would result in lower temperatures.

“Basically all across New South Wales that hasn’t been the case and as the La Nina fades out and we head into a neutral pattern the outlook for the remainder of February through to April is benign.

“There’s no real push either way. There’s nothing to suggest we will get the rain we need but there’s nothing to say we won’t either.”

The neutral pattern Dr Watkins speaks of is likely to linger through autumn, and while rain or the lack of it is one major topic, extended periods of heat are another.

“In January, most of NSW had Decile 10 temperatures, meaning they were in the top 10 per cent of all historical data,” he said.

“Looking closely at Dubbo, in January the average temperature was about 36 degrees, which is about three degrees higher than the long-term average for the month.

“In February so far the average is nearly 34 where the long-term average is about 32.

In January, most of NSW had Decile 10 temperatures, meaning they were in the top 10 per cent of all historical data.

Dr Andrew Watkins

“These are significant discrepancies but they are discrepancies being seen over much of NSW.

“The nights have been about a degree or so warmer than usual but the daytime averages are quite uncommon

“It’s easy to see why the land is so parched. The outlook for March is for the temperatures to be much closer to average but there is no push either way for rain.”