It's dry now, but summer could bring wild tropical weather

IF THE lawn mower has stayed away a little longer than usual and bushland is looking a bit yellow on the way into work, there's a reason for it.

The region has suffered through a dry year of well-below average rainfall, excluding three months when we experienced opposite extremes.

The worst month was May, when Lismore saw 9.6mm when its average is a staggering 115.3mm.

The months that saw above average rainfall were June and August this year and November last year.

All three months saw extreme weather events.

Rainfall has been well below average for most of the year since October 2015. Data from the Bureau of Meteorology.
Rainfall has been well below average for most of the year since October 2015. Data from the Bureau of Meteorology. Cathryn McLauchlan

Bureau of Meteorology climatologist, Agata Imielska, said as we come back into summer we should see a lot more rain, bringing the region back to life.

She warned to be careful what we wish for, however, because there was a fine line between too dry and too wet.

"There's really warm offshore sea surface temperatures ... so we've got that active source of moisture," she said.

"We're also expecting a normal to above average tropical cyclone season this year.

"Lismore doesn't get them, but an ex-tropical cyclone can bring a lot of rainfall and damaging winds.

"Even though it's been dry, really be wary of the fact that we are coming into summer and will see more tropical systems coming through."

There's also a chance of a minor La Nina event, which brings increased rainfall to Australia.

The last one occured in 2011.

As to why the region has experienced such a dry year, there's a few reasons, but it comes back to the Great Dividing Range, Ms Imielska said.

She said something called a negative Indian Ocean Dipole was the cause of low rainfall in our region over the last few months, while most of the state experienced wet months.

"What generally happens in these events (negative IOD) is areas west of the Great Dividing Range will get above average rainfall," she said.

"The Great Dividing Range creates a rain shadow ... so it was sheltering the coast.

"It should be back to neutral by December."

She said it was a similar picture throughout Autumn this year.

"There was a dominant westerly wind, so there was a lot of moisture coming from the west and there was a sheltering effect," she said.



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