Records eclipsed for SA's driest start to year

Records eclipsed for SA's driest start to year

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TESTING CONDITIONS: Rainfall across the state in the first four months of the year has been the lowest on record.

TESTING CONDITIONS: Rainfall across the state in the first four months of the year has been the lowest on record.

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While rain this week has been a welcome change, SA has experienced the driest start to the year on record, with the majority of the state suffering from well below-average rainfall so far in 2019.

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While rain this week has been a welcome change, SA has experienced the driest start to the year on record, with the majority of the state suffering from well below-average rainfall so far in 2019.

The Adelaide Plains, Mid North, Yorke Peninsula and eastern Eyre Peninsula have all recorded particularly dry starts.

Minimal rain has fallen in the first four months of 2019, with rain tallies as of Tuesday afternoon showing 115 stations in SA recording their driest ever January to April period. Of these station, 39 have had data collected for at least 100 years.

Focusing on these 39 stations, Ungarra received just 3.6 millimetres of rain in the first four months of 2019, smashing the 1965 record low of 12.5mm.

Cowell recorded 4mm, eclipsing the previous record low of 10.5mm set in 1923.

The YP faired no better, with Curramulka beating its 1923 record of 15.5mm, receiving just 5mm so far this year.

Minlaton and Ardrossan also suffered record lows, each receiving 6.4mm.

In the Mid North, Snowtown received 6.4mm in the first four months, eclipsing the previous record of 10.2mm, while Gulnare received 8.8mm compared to its previous all time low of 15.3mm in 1965.

Related reading:BoM weather records tumble in hot, dry 2018

Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Darren Ray said this year's dry conditions were "unprecedented", with low tropical cyclone activity in northern WA contributing to the dry start.

"Typically during summer and into autumn, several bursts of tropical activity occur that feed moisture down from the north-west across the state, but there has been little tropical activity since mid-November," he said.

A low pressure system moving across the southern agricultural regions this week brought a smattering of much-needed rain to some regions.

Flinders Chase on Kangaroo Island topped the rainfall chart with 69mm in the past week, to 9am Wednesday morning.

Coffin Bay (36mm), Myponga (27mm) and Warooka (26mm) also recorded encouraging totals.

But inland regions largely remained dry. The Murray Mallee and Upper South East received up to 2mm.

Farmers probably won't get the finish to the growing season that they were hoping for. - DARREN RAY

After this week's rain, Mr Ray said no more was predicted until mid-May, with May still projected to be drier-than-average.

Most agricultural regions have an average May rainfall of 25-50mm.

But this year's May prediction is expected to be between half and two-thirds of that average, before a more normal pattern for early winter.

"It does look like we'll see more average rainfall for June and July," Mr Ray said.

"But what we're seeing at the moment is that it is looking like it will go into a drier phase from August to October."

Mr Ray said unfortunately it was looking like another dry growing season for SA, for the second consecutive year.

"Indications at the moment are that farmers probably won't get the finish to the growing season that they were hoping for," he said.

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