Driest start to year for a decade

By Ivy Jensen

ECHUCA has had its driest month in five years and first four months of any year in almost a decade — with less than half the normal rain falling since January.

Only 48.7mm of rain has fallen in the past four months — 41 per cent of the 117mm average.

In April we received just 9mm — about a quarter of that month’s 32.3mm rainfall average.

February and March were worse; with only 2.4mm and 5.7mm falling respectively.

January has been the best month so far, with 31.6mm recorded, almost 4mm above average.

The last time it was so dry was 2009, when only 38.2mm of rain fell between January and April.

Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Lynette Bettio said the hot start to April in Echuca had contributed to the dry conditions.

Echuca smashed a heat record last month by 2°C, with the mercury reaching 38.2°C on April 11 — eclipsing the previous record of 36.4°C more than 40 years ago in 1986.

The temperature was also a staggering 16°C above average for the month making it a heat event.

Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Lynette Bettio said the exceptionally warm weather in Echuca during April exacerbated the effect of our low rainfall.

“Rainfall was the lowest on record for the month at a number of stations in Victoria and NSW,” she said.

And the outlook doesn’t promise much relief.

“The May to July rainfall outlook indicates below average rainfall is likely for parts of southwest Australia and western Victoria, but for much of the country there is little shift towards a wetter or drier than average period,” she said.

The twin towns did get rain on Thursday night but it was not a significant fall.

Local farmers have been burning off and working up land, but still have time for good falls to boost subsoil moisture for the next harvest before they start sowing.