Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Big Finley Dry

John Howard has been traveling the countryside hearing heart wrenching dry stories from people most suffering from the current drought. He's being told that this isthe biggest drought in Australia’s history.

He went to visit irrigator Eric Dudley who live in Finley which is located in southern New South Wales, close to Wagga Wagga and even closer to the nearest Weather Station at Deniliquin. Dudley’s irrigation channels are completely dry, and it is reported that “dust blows incessantly across open plains.”

Dudly also says that they have never seen such bad conditions in a region known as Australia's food bowl and that he will reach financial ruin should conditions continue. It’s such a terrible story. And one that my heart doesn’t go out to.

But lets check the stats for Deniliquin, only around 50km form Dudley’s farm.

The graph on the left shows the rainfall for Deniliquin since 1858. It shows a pretty consistent graph with some big rainfall years and other less so, but either way, no significant increase or decrease.

More recently we had some bad years in 2001, 2002 and 2004 where Deniliquin averaged 9, 17 and 19 mm of rain less than the norm per month respectively. The breaker in the middle 2003, along with 1999 and 2000, had increased rainfall with on average 3.6 mm more than average per month. Considering that Deniliquin averages 33mm per month of rainfall, a drop of 10 to 20mm a month is considerable less, but as the graph suggests, definitely one that is not abnormal.

Similarly, there are plenty of great big spikes where Deniliquin has seen able rain. So it’s true, over the past couple of years we have seen decreased rainfall in this area. Is it the worst drought of all time here? Well no. Between 1895 and 1902 Deniliquin had 8 years of rainfall that was less than the average per month. Between 1940 and 1945 Deniliquin averaged 10mm less than the average per month. That’s over 70 months in a row with less than 10mm less rainfall than normal, which is surprisingly the same amount less than the current period from 2001.

Of course our heart goes out to Eric Dudley. He is experiencing less rainfall than normal at current. And If John Howard wants to hand out money to the dehydrated, then I’m all cool with that.

But one things for sure, that this recent dry weather in the south of New South Wales is well, quite normal. It’s not the worst drought in Australia’s history, and we are not even experiencing a trend of less and less rainfall per year – even in Deniliquin. Global warming has nothing to do with rainfall patterns. And either does level’s of Co2 in the air and human influence. Did I say one things for sure? I meant five things.

You’d have more chance at getting rain in Deniliquin by doing a rain dance rather than cutting down on those awful Co2 levels.

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