Drenching welcome, but it's not enough
By Luke Prendergast
CASINO has recorded nearly half its average June rainfall over the past two days, but the Bureau of Meteorology says the drought is far from broken.
Casino received 33 millimetres of rain in the 30 hours from 9am Tuesday to 3pm yesterday, compared with its average for the entire month of 67.7mm. Evans Head received 62.6mm, Lismore 23.0mm, Ballina 31.8mm, Byron Bay 55.8mm and Yamba 45.8mm.
Gavin O'Neill, who works on a 1500-acre cattle property at Ruthven, said the rain was welcome, but agreed it was unlikely to signal the beginning of a 'big wet'.
"It's been real dry so we need the rain," he said.
"It'll keep everything going and get a few winter crops going. If we got two or three inches it'd be good. We've got about an inch so far.
"It's pretty wet on top of the ground. It's not boggy or anything; it's soaking into the ground. It's been good steady rain, not heavy rain."
Unfortunately for farmers, the Bureau of Meteorology says it will take three months of above average rainfall to compensate for the El Ni?o weather pattern of 2006/07.
"The worst of the long-term deficiencies are likely to remain for some time. For them to be removed by the end of August, for example, falls over the next three months would need to be in the highest 10 per cent of the historical record in many areas," a Bureau spokesman said.
While local areas are not as badly hit as some in Victoria and south-eastern Queensland, the drought is likely to remain for some time yet.
"There's not enough rain falling to say the drought has broken," the spokesman said. "What we are seeing now is rain from the immediate weather systems passing over the country.
"After El Ni?o the odds are in favour of La Ni?a, resulting in higher rainfall for eastern Australia, but as yet there's not a significant bias towards above average rainfall."
Historically, La Ni?a events bring wetter than normal conditions in Australia's eastern half from autumn onwards.