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Sydney's surprisingly upbeat response to relentless rainy spell

Anthony Sharwood, Monday January 4, 2021 - 15:14 EDT

Any way you look at it, it has been a sodden few weeks in Sydney. While overall rainfall amounts have not been extraordinary, rain has been incredibly persistent. Here's a taste of just how wet it's been:

  • As of Monday January 4, rain has been recorded in Sydney on 17 of the last 21 days.
  • Every day of 2021 thus far has seen rain, and there's not much relief in sight until this coming Sunday – after which it looks like turning rainy again.
  • The current wet streak is seven days on which at least some rain has been recorded.
  • Seven consecutive rain days have not occurred at Sydney's official weather station at Observatory Hill in December or January for six years.
  • The poor old sun has gone missing, with just 6.4 hours of sunshine in the six days from December 29 to January 3.

Image: Just another miserable day on a Sydney beach. Source: @pattyjansen via Pixabay.

So how are Sydneysiders coping?

Are the people who aren't locked-down moaning about their beach weather being ruined?

Quite the opposite. We asked people on social media how they were dealing with the soggy Sydney summer, and their responses were surprisingly upbeat. If anything, it seems Sydney folk are enjoying the change from last summer’s relentless heat.

"It's better than 45 degree heat and bushfire smoke," western Sydney resident and GWS Giants megafan Michael Shillito told Weatherzone.

"Soaking rain prevents bushfires, I feel blessed," Sally Stockbridge said.

"27 degrees here in Blacktown, garden is loving the rain, pool is full, no heatwaves, bushfires or smoke. All good here," 'Peter' added.

"I'm used to it. Like Scotland, only warmer," Gary Strachan told us.

"Keeping people at home can't be bad and my bird's nest ferns love the moisture," Paul Bolster said, making a good point about Covid and the need to avoid crowded places like swimming spots on hot days.

A year ago, things were so very, very different

Sydney was bone dry after just 1.8 mm of rain in December 2019, and only a few light drops of rain in the first half of January 2020. Thick, acrid bushfire smoke choked the air. Meanwhile Penrith in the city's west recorded an unheard-of 48.9 degrees - the hottest temperature ever recorded in an Australian capital city.

That was on January 4, a year ago today.

What a difference a year makes. Now Sydney is green, moist, humid, and sultry. And while most locals are loving it, the wet does present a few problems.

"The wardrobes, cupboards and linen press are starting to have that 'Sydney musty mould' smell about them," popular ABC broadcaster Wendy Harmer told us. "Just a day to air the bed coverings would be nice!"

Another Sydney local, Colin Warren, told us he was "over it".

"Just before Christmas, we started some renovations including some minor drainage work. I just need two dry days to get the cementing and concreting done."

He could be waiting a while yet.

So why the prolonged wet spell?

"The increased rainfall is mainly to do with the La Nina phase we're in at the moment which results in warmer waters off the east coast of Australia and more dominant easterly winds, with an onshore flow pushing plenty of moisture over the coast," Weatherzone meteorologist Craig McIntosh explained.

You can see that moist onshore flow illustrated really well in the 3 pm Monday synoptic chart.

"La Nina also typically pushes cold fronts further south, which reduces the chance of drier westerly winds," McIntosh went on to explain.

Looking further ahead, the Sydney cricket Test between Australia and India (which starts on Thursday) appears to have a high chance of being rain affected. At this stage, the only rain-free day looks like being Sunday.

More breaking news

Sydney Morning Herald
ABC News

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