Zucchini picker, Billy Mccosker from Canberra, enjoying the rain at Karlton Park farm at Sutton on Saturday. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Farmers in some of the state's northern inland areas could be thanking the heavens in coming days for the heaviest rainfall the drought-stricken region in years.
Meteorologists expect the weather system that on Friday night gave parts of the state's southwest the heaviest soaking in years to move north, bringing much-needed relief to some of the state's driest areas.
Sydney saw only a scattering of rain on Friday night, but some areas in the state's south-west experienced more rainfall in 24 hours than four times their average February monthly tally. The tiny township of Pooncarie received a 95mm downpour, compared to the 22mm it usually expects for the entire month.
Dalton farmer Kelly Dowling in a dried-out dam in Gunning, NSW, on Friday 14 Friday 2014. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Other drenchings included Burtundy (78mm) and Balranald (62mm), which both experienced their heaviest rainfall in three years. Lake Victoria (41mm) and Hay (30mm) experienced their heaviest rainfall in almost two years.
Weatherzone meteorologist Ben McBurney predicts the rain will spread north and northeast, bringing up to 40mm of rain to the upper western region - including Bourke and Brewarrina - to parts of the central slopes and plains around Dubbo, and to the southern parts of the northwest slopes and plains around Coonabarabran, Narrabri and possibly Tamworth.
Bourke, Brewarrina, Narrabri, Warrumbungle and Tamworth are among the 20 areas added to the NSW Government's expanded $14.6 million emergency drought assistance package announced on Wednesday.
Some of these inland areas are experiencing their lowest rainfall on record, according to a Bureau of Meteorology analysis released this month. The research found that in the 22 months to January 2014, most of the areas inland of the Great Dividing Range near the state's northern border had received less than 70 per cent of their long-term average rainfall.
McBurney stops short of describing the coming wet as “drought-breaking”, but says relief may be on the way for this parched region.
“In the upper western these could be the heaviest falls in a year,” he said.
“By the end of the event, most parts of the state will have seen their heaviest rains since November, except places in the west, which last night already had their heaviest rains in three years.”
While Sydney isn't likely to see as much rain (between 10 and 20mm could fall on Sunday), McBurney says the rest of February and early March are also likely to be much wetter than December or January. NSW recorded its driest January in a decade this year and Sydney is in the midst of its third-driest summer.
“We had a lot of moisture staying in the north of the country, helping to cause that heat and those very, very dry conditions. But we've got a reversal of that pattern now,” McBurney said.
The early part of the week is likely to see showers and thunderstorms but by Wednesday, rains are likely to ease as a cold front moves through.
“This has been the most humid week of the summer but things should also get less sticky after that,” he said.