It’s been a long, hot start to 2018 for the Central West, and the bad news is there no real signs of significant rain or a drop in temperatures.
Dr Andrew Watkins, the manager of long-range forecasts at the Bureau of Meteorology, said a weak La Nina pattern has failed the deliver expected summer falls.
And with the ‘wet pattern’ on the way out, he concedes there may be a battle for farmers searching for good, consistent rain in the lead-up to sowing their winter crops.
“Over the last couple of weeks the La Nina has declined reasonably quickly,” Dr Watkins said.
“In fact, the pattern has been very weak and will only just scrape past the definition of being a definite La Nina.
“What we have experienced is less than our models actually suggested, it’s been a disappointing pattern from that perspective.
“A moderate or strong La Nina would give rainfall and cloud, which would result in lower temperatures.
“Basically all across New South Wales that hasn’t been the case and as the La Nina fades out and we head into a neutral pattern the outlook for the remainder of February through to April is benign.
“There’s no real push either way. There’s nothing to suggest we will get the rain we need but there’s nothing to say we won’t either.”
Forbes Airport recorded 23.2mm of rain in January, there’s been 0.4mm in the airport gauge to February 15.
The neutral pattern Dr Watkins spoke of is likely to linger through autumn, and while rain or the lack of it is one major topic, extended periods of heat are another.
The mercury has already hit 40 degrees on 10 days in 2018, including five days in a row from January 19 to 23, after a peak of 44.4 on January 7.
We’ve had 24 days over 35 degrees in the past six weeks.
The Bureau is expecting temperatures to be closer to average for the remainder of summer.
“In January, most of NSW had Decile 10 temperatures, meaning they were in the top 10 per cent of all historical data,” he said.
“It’s easy to see why the land is so parched. The outlook for March is for the temperatures to be much closer to average but there is no push either way for rain.”