Sunday, April 28, 2013

Autumn in the South West

Why don't westerlies bring rain in the autumn?
Readers from another place might wonder why all the fuss. Well,  down here in Victoria an autumn break is everything. While we expect one , at least in April,  there are years like this one when it seems to come very late - our situation right here , right now .
 Today is 27th April 2013 and Westerlies have been blowing a gale for 2 days . Lots of low clouds moving fast but very little rain to speak of .Then or in the previous 5 months.
The reason we are talking about it is because rain is more urgent when the dry spell is long and the margins for dairying are lower than ever .The rain would mean  a lot . Maybe such moments mean nothing in the longer term but we feel them deeply - when animals have to be fed with expensive other feeds and the profit margin fro grass fed stock is being evaporated  This has been one of the longest dry spells we have had for several years but its made much more painful by the squashed state of the industry and the age of those still hanging in there.
It seems however that this westerly thing a this time of year is just a reflection of where the highs  pass in autumn here . We mostly get the centres ( lots of warm still days) but occasionally we get the bottoms of the highs . Presumably without an orographic lift or a front we get clouds but no rain .We get so little wind in autumn usually and overall that our windmills can struggle to pump the water we need for stock ( the main way water is distributed in the Heytesbury )
This is probably  normal for many flatter and drier areas it seems fairly uncommon to me . But then I haven't been around very long and my memory isn't as reliable as it once was . The oxygen ( from the gales ) is very invigorating for an old guy.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Keeping the weather in perspective

Here is a comparison of the evaporation and rainfall averages for the top and bottom of the Otways . Our  SW dairying areas . The dark green line indicates when it usually starts being green/growing . The light green line indicates the growing season. Moisture stored in the soil in the spring means that the green line can continue till December in most areas .Soil type and profile are important and in many years extra rain on the edge months can keep things growing well due to soil water storage .These "extra ' months can currently mean the difference between a profit and loss for milk producers  By the way , don't thank the Met bureau for this . Thank the local soil researchers you no longer have.