Rain in autumn

ANDREW MATHIESON
THE REGION’S parched landscape is on the verge of a drenching, according to a Geelong meteorologist.
Geelong Weather Services’ Lindsay Smail believes the ongoing drought, caused by an El Nino, is showing signs of retreating.
“El Nino is expected to die a lingering death between now and March or April,” Mr Smail said.
“A lot of the outlook now is becoming a bit more positive for rainfall this year.”
Geelong has sweltered through one its driest and hottest years on record.
The driest spring in 110 years produced just 58 millimetres of rain between September and November compared to an average 164mm.
Mr Smail said the lack of rainfall was caused by “natural variation”.
It was also the driest year since both 1967 and 1982 with 285mm.
Every month, except May, had below average rainfall.
Geelong also had 36 days that surpassed 30 degrees compared to its average of 24.5 per year, including the hottest October day on record with 37.1 degrees.
Reports of thunder fell from 15 to six and frosts – where air temperatures hits below two degrees – also jumped from an average of 14 to 20 in 2006, he said.
“This is all connected with the drought,” Mr Smail said.
“In a drought, you’re likely to have very low minimum temperatures because of the lack of cloud cover and that increases the likelihood of frosts in the morning.
“During the daytime, because of the lack of cloud cover, you’re also expecting to have a quite number of days over 30 degrees.”
Geelong continued to experience colder autumn and spring, and a warmer winter, also brought on by a lack of cloud cover.
“That’s been a long-term trend in this part of Victoria,” he said.
“The winters have been particularly milder than they have in the past.
“It’s been noticeable for at least 20 to 30 years and that is likely to be part of a climate shift.”
Mr Smail summed up last year’s weather as “disastrous”, attributing it to a lack of rain.

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