April 1999 was one of our driest Aprils on record. Apart from the drought of 1997, this was Geelong’s driest April since 1976, according to Lindsay Smail of Geelong Weather Services. In the closest areas to Geelong the totals ranged from 5.5 mm at Inverleigh to 40.5 mm at Corio. The average across the urban area was a meagre 17 mm instead of the normal 39.2 mm. This puts our monthly total into the lowest 20% of all Aprils.
The only areas to receive average totals were the northern suburbs of Norlane and Corio, which were hit by a 30 mm deluge in a storm on the 5th. To Geelong’s northwest, the Golden Plains areas around Inverleigh and Teesdale suffered badly.
Meanwhile the main West Barwon water catchment at Forrest also was well down, recording only 26.2 mm, giving no hope of an early removal of water restrictions.
Is a new drought on the way? Lindsay Smail says “no” – there are no signs of another drought as bad as the recent one. Interpretation of Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) figures and increasing Indian Ocean sea surface temperatures lead us to the conclusion there will be no drought, but there is a 40-50% chance of lower rainfall in this 3-month period.
However Mr Smail is “reasonably confident” the April downturn will be followed by better falls in May and June.
April was considerably colder in Geelong than normal: by an average of around two degrees. (Maximums averaged 18.3 degrees compared to the normal 20.3, and minimums averaged 8.3 degrees compared to the normal 10.2.) On the mornings of the 23rd and 24th, the temperature at Mt Duneed dropped to 1.4 and 1.7 degrees respectively, the coldest temperatures ever recorded in Geelong in April. Urban area temperatures were not quite as low.
The colder April does not necessarily presage a colder winter than normal, however, because recent Aprils in Geelong have been getting cooler in spite of an overall yearly temperature increase, Mr Smail said.
Three heavy frosts were experienced at Inverleigh during the month.