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Record June rainfall falls over north-west WA

Stephen Stockwell, Tuesday June 25, 2013 - 15:50 EST
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The view over a very wet Karratha station. It picked up a very unseasonal 180mm over the 24 hours to 9am this morning. - ABC

The Western Australian mining town of Karratha has more than tripled its June daily rainfall record, clocking up 209 millimetres in the middle of what is supposed to be its dry season.

The rain, falling in the 24 hours to 9 a.m. this morning, came in just three millimetres shy of the town's highest rainfall since records began in 1971.

Ion Heseltine, the manager of the Karratha pastoral station, saw falls of 180 millimetres and says even though the rain will affect mustering, he's not about to complain.

"We were heading for a fairly dry year, so this is too good to turn back.

"It puts us up to 34 5mm for the year, so if you take into account we'd only had 166 up until just recently, puts us right up there now, it's well and truly over our average."

Warrawagine station in the East Pilbara, about 200 kilometres south-east of Port Hedland, saw very heavy rainfall this morning, picking up 73 mm between 9 and 10 a.m.

Geoff Mills, from Warrawagine, welcomes the rain, but admits it is disrupting operations.

"It's one of those things. It's highly unseasonal, we're supposed to be mustering. The whole crew is sitting around the quarters twiddling their thumbs at the moment, because we can't go anywhere and do any mustering."

Higher than average rainfall over northern WA this dry season has made it hard for producers to get cattle to sales.

Kevin Fowler, a livestock agent with Elders, says that's making it hard to fulfil order commitments.

"It's making it very awkward, for sure. There's still cattle coming out, but they're expecting another big rain tonight, so you can't really program to far ahead."

Mr Fowler says markets are being forced to be a little flexible.

"Boats are sort of more stringent on time than slaughter. With slaughter you can mix and match a bit, pull cattle from elsewhere, but the boats are more particular in what they want. So I suppose they're the blokes getting mucked around a little bit more."

Neil Bennett, from the Bureau of Meteorology, says this unseasonably high rainfall is due to a low pressure system off the coast feeding a cloud band over the north-west of WA.

He isn't sure when drier conditions will return.

"I would say there's going to be breaks. I don't think we're going to continual rain through there. How long those breaks are and when we return to what we would term 'normal dry conditions', I'm not really sure. It's very difficult to say."


© ABC 2013

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