Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Just Average Weather

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Just Average Weather

Article excerpt


ONE year ago Australia had only just emerged, dripping, from its wettest two years since records began.

Back-to-back La Nina events, coupled with very warm sea surface temperatures produced a two-year rainfall total that just surpassed the old record set during 1973-74. In third place was the big wet of the mid-1950s.

Why Lismore did not flood can only be answered by the weather gods, as the skies continued to open through May, only becoming very dry from July to October.

Now, as we enter a new year, computer forecasts are for average weather until spring. It is the first time the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has registered consistently neutral values during summer months since 2005-2006.

Even though the Northern Rivers doesnat follow the SOI prediction as closely as areas further west, we can assume that a forecast for average conditions means just that: A bit of sun and a bit of cloud, without the extremes that we have had over the past two years.

Having said that, we have experienced floods in years before when SOI values indicate a dry old time.

A graphic example of how our district sometimes fails to comply with the SOI trend is the rainfall data for Bangalow, where more than 737mm of rain fell in October, 1972, at a time when the SOI values were 11 points in the El Nino or dry range. The same thing could be said about Nimbin, where nearly 989mm fell in February 1931, when SOI values were -14.9 a well into adrya territory.

This year the trend in maximum daytime temperatures will continue to climb, a product of global climate change.

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast warmer days in our region.

By the same token, the number of cyclones that are predicted off our shores should be close to the average number of four, unlike two years ago when the bureau predicted a season run of between six and seven.

If these conditions persist there is the chance that cyclones may form further offshore, rather than closer to the Queensland coast, providing an excellent source of summer waves rather than the lumpy, short period junk we have experienced for the past few summers. …

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