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Drought declared for the entirety of NSW, but at least there is some rain forecast

Tim Fookes and David Claughton, Monday January 13, 2020 - 17:47 EDT
Audience submitted image
Dry conditions in the NSW central west, with irrigated gardens providing the only visual relief in a parched landscape. - Audience submitted

New South Wales is now 100 per cent drought affected according to the New South Wales Department of Primary Industry (NSW DPI), but the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is forecasting some rain later this week.

Many farmers are struggling with "intensive" drought conditions, very little water or livestock feed, and low crop yields.

It has been that way for two years now and rainfall in December was just 20 per cent of the average.

The NSW DPI's Combined Drought Indicator (CDI) has shown intense drought conditions have continued in far-western and north-eastern NSW, while conditions have worsened in the central and south eastern regions of the state.

"In the last 12 months the rainfall we've seen has largely been ineffective," season conditions coordinator Scott Wallace said.

"Winter crops were well down and the lack of rain means the summer crop outlook is also looking poor."

Given the CDI also looks at soil moisture, pasture growth and crop growth, a pretty grim picture has been painted.

Rain on the horizon

Some growers are punting on rain falling later this week and have begun dry seeding crops, but Jordan Notara from the BOM said the rain will be "hit and miss" with showers and storms on the north coast initially, before the rain reaches inland.

Thunderstorms are predicted to also bring strong winds and dust storms, which could be a bitter pill for farmers desperate for rain if all their hopes turn to dust.

There is also the risk of erosion, according to Mr Wallace.

"The storm rain we're seeing at the moment isn't great as we may see intense runoff," he said.

The BOM has been forecasting a return to near-average rainfall in the next three months, providing a glimmer of hope for farmers.

"We are in a neutral zone right now," Mr Wallace said.

"We're waiting to see what happens with the monsoons in northern Australia.

"We will need several consecutive months of above average rainfall to make a difference, but it is nice to see the outlook is slightly improved from what we were looking at even at the end of 2019."


© ABC 2020

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