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NSW needs 'a big flood' to break drought

Michael Condon, Friday March 14, 2014 - 14:04 EDT
ABC image
A newborn calf stands by its dead mother in a paddock - ABC

The latest seasonal snap shot for New South Wales shows that one third of the state is still in the grip of a drought.

Dry conditions eased across much of NSW following good rainfall in mid to late February but more rain is needed to sustain pastures and replenish soil moisture and water supplies.

The report found areas of the north-west, north-east, far west and far south-east of the State received below average rainfall again last month with pasture growth in these areas suffering.

??About a third of the State received above average rainfall, including the far north-west, the south-west and areas of the Central West, Central Tablelands, Hunter, South East, Riverina and Murray Local Land Services districts,?? DPI seasonal conditions co-ordinator Ian McGowen said.

??Average topsoil moisture improved, but still remains low across 98 per cent of NSW and subsoil moisture levels declined slightly.

??Stock water supplies remain low over areas of the west, north-west, north-east and Tablelands.

??Stock condition and pasture production is dependent upon follow-up rainfall over the coming months.??

Mr McGowen says early to mid-February was hot, with some areas receiving only patchy rain.

??Maximum temperatures across the state in February averaged 1.6 degrees above normal,?? he said.

??Total rainfall over the state ranged from one to 300 mm, but the majority of NSW received between 25 and 100 mm.

??Much of the drought-affected area in the north-west around Bourke and Brewarrina received above average rainfall of 50-100 mm, but the area around White Cliffs received only 10 mm or less.

??Rainfall in other drought-affected areas of the north west ranged from 10 to 50 mm and, unfortunately, some areas such as Walgett and Pilliga did not receive the same falls as further west.

??The far north-east corner of NSW received less than 40 per cent of normal February rainfall, with the area between Grafton and Lismore receiving less than 20 per cent of normal.??

Mr McGowen says pasture growth improved during February across the Tablelands, slopes and south-west, and in the Hunter Valley.

??Relative to historical records, pasture growth was average or better over almost two-thirds of NSW and below average in the north-east, south-east and parts of the north-west."

Mr McGowen says large rainfall events are needed to ensure that the winter crops are off to at least an average season.

"The subsoil moisture is just very low. That is why many people talk about the need for a big flood to really break a drought and that is what we need in NSW."


- ABC

© ABC 2014

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