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Rain reaches parts of western NSW but no real relief for farmers battling drought

By Paige Cockburn, Wednesday September 18, 2019 - 11:54 EST
ABC image
An aerial view of the rain in Dubbo - ABC

Rain has fallen in some parts of western NSW but farmers in the most critically dry areas have been left disappointed after failing to receive a single drop.



The trough has delivered the biggest falls to Sydney and the Hunter region, with Sydney Observatory Hill recording about 61.2 millimetres and Gosford receiving 63mm in the 24-hour period from 9:00am Tuesday until 9:00am Wednesday.

But the rain also travelled west with good falls around the Blue Mountains, Blackheath receiving 38mm, but as soon it hit the Great Dividing Range it thinned out.

"The Great Dividing Range has divided the rainfall once again," Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Helen Reid said.

"Further west it was very scraggly showers."



Frustratingly, those in dire need of rain in the upper west and north west, including Tamworth, Bourke and Moree, missed out.

But it was better news for Orange, Dubbo and Bathurst, with 2mm in the 24-hour window up until 9:00am on Wednesday, and a big break the previous day, with 23mm in Orange, 29mm in Bathurst and 7mm in Dubbo.

These falls are not drought-breaking but have put much-needed water back in the dams and given farmers hope that there may be pasture growth.

"It does sound lovely, and some of it will help in water storage, but it may not get into the soil," Ms Reid said.

"And if it can't penetrate the soil it doesn't make a difference."



The south-west slopes saw some moisture, with Gundagai recording 8mm, Tumbarumba receiving 6mm and Cootamundra 4mm.

In the central west, Wellington got 17mm and Coonabarabran Airport had 6.6mm fall.

In the lower western, the rain teased Pooncarie (3mm) and Menindee (2mm) where substantial rain has not fallen since July.



NSW Farmers' spokesman Bruce Reynolds said farmers in areas that remained dry were feeling let down.

"For a lot of producers it's disheartening because it's come late and also it's not been a big rain system and it's followed several very small rain systems for the slopes and plains," he said.

"For the past couple of months there's hardly been much rain at all."

Mr Reynolds said producers needed 150 to 200mm of steady rain in the next two to three weeks if there was any chance for late pasture growth.

"For a lot of producers it's probably getting too late even though we're only in mid-September," he said.

There was more rain in the north of the state but unfortunately it did more harm than good on the firegrounds around Drake and Dorrigo where 5mm fell.

The Rural Fire Service said the small amount of rain did not impact on the fires and instead turned fire trails into mud.

The trough will continue to extend down the NSW coast until tomorrow before moving away but the weekend will bring another cold front.


- ABC

© ABC 2019

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