Dry January

BY all accounts, January 2013 has been a dry one.

Only 4.4mm of moisture touched the parched soil in the first month of the new year, making 2013 the driest January since 1965.

There were only two readings: 1.2mm recorded on January 14 and another 3.2mm on the 27th.

The minuscule amount of precipitation recorded is well below the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) monthly average of 57.6mm and markedly down from last January, when 55.2mm fell.

Although it is not the driest January on record avid Lacmalac weather watcher Jingles Kell said the hot, dry start is not necessarily an indication of what is in store for the ensuing year.

Mr Kell has been keeping rainfall measurements since 1980 and has the official Tumut rainfall records that were kept by the Weedens that date from 1886 through until 1989. He loves watching the weather and his interest in the slightest drop to the largest storm has increased over the years.

“Just because we have a dry January doesn’t mean we will have a dry year,” Mr Kell said. “In 1967 they had 39mm in January and only ended up with 339mm of rain for the yearly total, well short of our average of 800mm a year.

“You really can’t pick it. In some years they have recorded not a drop for January.”

The lack of rain in January contrasted against the heavy, but all too brief, deluge that soaked parts of the shire on Friday afternoon.

Reports of between 11ms and 18.8mm were recorded in rain gauges around Tumut, but Adelong received not so much as a sprinkle despite the looming dark clouds clearly visible on the horizon.

With the down pour came a small splattering of hail, which disappeared as quickly as it arrived, leaving those areas that missed out looking longingly towards the departing storm clouds and those who received the much needed rain, mopping up driveways and carports due to overflowing gutters and abundant run off.

In the January of 1957 no rain was recorded whilst in January 1906 and 1947 only 1mm fell in Tumut. Things weren’t too much damper in the first month for 1919 with 2mm falling and in 1912 only 3mm and 1929 saw four millimetres.

The year of 1965 stared off a dry one with no rain for January and February then only 4mm falling in March.

In the last decade 2003 was noted as the driest January with 25mm falling and 2006 the wettest with 84.6mm reaching the earth. Mr Kell said the leading months of the year are traditionally the drier ones.

“Usually in January and February there is not much rain about,” Mr Kell said. “I always say weather is a cyclic thing. It possibly is getting a bit drier for us and a bit out of kilter but the weather goes around in patterns of dry and wet.

“Sometimes it is not what you expect, that is something I like about following the weather. It is interesting wondering what is coming.”

Mr Kell said the direction the rain predominately comes from has changed over the years. While not so long ago the rain mainly moved in from the north west, it’s now more likely to hit from the south. And rain coming from the east? He said it is still viewed as good rain but is very rare to get.

Mr Kell’s first year of work was anything but dry. He recalls droving and working on the land during 1956 when he said it seemed to almost rain from February through until November and 1307.4mm was the annual rain fall measurement.

“It was such a wet year, I remember on Anzac Day droving cattle in the snow,” Mr Kell said. “At Kiandra there was 18 inches of snow and we saw snow fall from Adaminaby right down to halfway down Talbingo Mountain.

“I nearly bogged the horse in the snow and they had to bring hay up for the cattle as all the grass was snowed under.

Some of the wettest Januarys on record include 1891 with 212mm, 1925 with 125mm, 1934 receiving 177mm, 1954 with 145 mls and 1984 when 330mm was recorded to have fell.

There is not a lot of rain of the radar for the coming week, although a chance of thunderstorms this morning (Tuesday) may be all the rain residents of the shire see.

Cooler nights will continue to bless the area with temperatures expected to range from 31-39 degrees throughout the week.