Rain check: region in record dry spell

NORTHERN Tasmania has been crippled by what climatologists are labelling one of the driest Octobers on record.

Erica, 11, and her dad Gene McLaren give their Invermay garden a much-needed watering after Northern Tasmania experienced one of the driest Octobers on record.  Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER

Erica, 11, and her dad Gene McLaren give their Invermay garden a much-needed watering after Northern Tasmania experienced one of the driest Octobers on record. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER

Though the state has been hit by record-low rainfalls, the North was particularly badly hit, with many areas around Launceston recording only 1 millimetre of rain – a dire contrast to the usual 50 millimetres notched in an average October.

Sixty-eight areas across Tasmania have recorded the lowest-ever rainfall for October, including Lilydale (2.8mm) and Kings Meadows (0.8mm).

Fifteen more areas recorded their lowest rainfall in the past 20 years.

Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Ian Barnes-Koughan said the lack of rain, following on from Tasmania’s dry winter, could be attributed to ElNino weather patterns.

‘‘Part of that is El Nino, but it’s also to do with the sea surface temperatures over the Indian Ocean, it’s not that it’s mysteriously stopped rain but we’re seeing less rain-bearing systems,’’ Mr Barnes-Koughan said.

‘‘We expected a warmer-than-average winter, but it ended up being colder than average due to a few outbreaks, but it was still really dry.

‘‘We can see it’s more likely to be a dry November than a wet one, as the rest unfolds our outlooks will probably ease back.’’

He said October was also about 2.6 degrees hotter than average.

‘‘Launceston city averaged 20.5 degrees for maximum temperature over the month, which sounds fairly pleasant, but it’s 1.4 degrees warmer than the last record-high we had, and we have observations that go back 32 years,’’ Mr Barnes-Koughan said.

‘‘These are summer-time temperatures, not the sort of temperatures you expect for mid-spring, they’re more the sorts you expect in early summer, it’s almost like summer’s come significantly early.’’

He said the high temperatures were likely to continue into a warmer-than-average summer.

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