Wednesday, April 23, 2008


It's raining again as I write. Not heavily, just persistent drizzle.This makes the eleventh day in a row in Sydney with at least some rain, the longest wet period in seventy seven years, and I am sick of it.

I don't think that I would mind so much if it belted down, but this variable stuff is hard to manage. If you don't carry a rain coat or umbrella all the time, you are likely to get drenched in an irregular shower.

Despite the rain we have had, 42.9 per cent of NSW is still in drought, another 11.5 per cent is classified as marginal. The drought areas are concentrated in the far west and south west of the state, and include most of the NSW portion of the Murray River Basin.

The rainfall outlook released by the Bureau of Metereology for the period May to July suggests that the conditions that have given Australia its recent rain are weakening.

The chances of exceeding the median rainfall over May to July are between 60 and 70 per cent in a broad band covering far northern WA, most of the NT, northwest and southern Queensland, and the far north of NSW. Over the rest of the country, the chances of exceeding the three-month median rainfall are mainly between 45 and 60 per cent. So the chances of being wetter than normal are about the same as the chances of being drier.

With the easing of the drought, some of the heat has gone out of the national discussion on water. The fairly insane notion that we should phase back agriculture, a notion that surfaced in the metro media as drought conditions hit the cities, seems to have dropped away. It is hard to argue this at a time of global food shortages and rising food prices.

While some of the heat has gone out of national discussion, debate continues below the main media horizons. Argument now appears to centre on ways of managing climatic variability. Some of the ideas, such as ownership of multiple properties in different climatic areas in order to spread risk, are old, but none the worse for that.

There have been enormous changes in Australian agriculture over the last forty years, changes that I am at best only partially aware of. Some of the capital intensive water harvesting techniques, techniques designed to manage on farm water over extensive periods, are quite remarkable from my perspective.

At some stage I think that it would be really interesting to simply drive north from river valley to river valley along the western slopes through New England into Queensland, just to see what has been happening on the ground.


Thomas said...

Absolutely bucketed down in the city for 90% of the day. And then reach my area around 5:30pm, with just as much a downpour. Crazy weather these days.

Jim Belshaw said...

Absolutely agree, Thomas. I drove back from work and it was absolutely pelting. Now it's dry!

blonde canadian said...

It must have hit Melbourne too Jim, as we've had intermittent showers all day today with apparently more to come.

And you've been tagged!