Farmers in drought-stricken parts of Australia are celebrating after the heavens opened up this week, inundating parched lands with more than a month’s rain in one day following the nation’s driest September on record.
Eastern Australia has been suffering from an extended dry period — in some regions stretching across several years — leaving farmers struggling to keep their sheep and cattle alive with dwindling supplies of feed.
A trough system moving across New South Wales in the southeast of the continent since Wednesday has brought wild weather, including heavy rain, to bone-dry towns such as Broken Hill and Dubbo.
“A lot of New South Wales is in drought, so getting rain anywhere is quite good,” Australian Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Chua Zhi-weng said.
The outback town of Broken Hill on Wednesday received 34.2mm of rain, above the October monthly average of 24.2mm and more than what it had received in the previous nine months.
“Forty-one millimeters! It’s bloody great to see. I’ve lost my words,” one farmer near the outback town of Menindee, which received about 50mm in one day, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are, rain brings people joy,” another farmer told the broadcaster.
In the state’s central-west, towns battling the dry such as Dubbo received 45mm of rain on Thursday.
Further north in the inland regions of Queensland, graziers welcomed the arrival of storms that gave their fields a much-needed drenching.
Despite the wet conditions, meteorologists said that more rain was needed in the coming weeks and months to break the drought.
“We do need some more follow-up rain to overcome the deficit that’s been built up over the time we haven’t had enough rain,” Chua said.
The bureau on Monday said that rainfall last month was “very much below average nationally and particularly low across the southern mainland.”
“The year to date has also been exceptionally dry over the mainland southeast, with significant rainfall deficiencies continuing to affect large areas of eastern Australia at timescales out to around two years duration,” the bureau added.
Farmers would also get little comfort from the bureau’s forecast of a drier and warmer-than-average end to the year.
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