This is a time for rejoicing in the catchment! The West Barwon Dam at Forrest has received well above average rain for the last two months. August’s figure of 205.6 mm is a welcome return to normal or better winter rains for Geelong’s water supplies which have risen to over 26% of capacity for the first time this year. Urban Geelong itself also fared better than average for July and August and totalled above average for winter even after a dry June. The official BoM station at Geelong Airport (Mt Duneed) however for much of the time remained in a rainfall-impoverished hole, for reasons known only to itself, surrounded by better results.
This above average winter rainfall for the whole Geelong-Otways region effectively proves wrong some of the predictive models used by bodies such as the BoM. The pre-winter 3-monthly outlooks were incorrect for most of western Victoria in suggesting only a 35-40% chance of receiving average falls. Despite being presented as “statements of probabilities” the models clearly are not reliable or useful in their present form.
August was warmer than normal by about one degree. Highest temperature was 21.4C on the 15th and lowest minimum 0.5C on the 8th. Daily minimums averaged 6.9C compared with the longterm mean of 5.8C and maximums averaged 15.9C compared to 15.0C. The higher land temperatures coupled with dropping sea temperatures combined to ensure that cold front rains associated with recent intense low pressure systems retained their precipitation-inducing powers despite the Otways rain shadow effect over Geelong.
Winter overall was about 0.3 degrees C warmer than the long-term mean, but this was by no means Geelong’s warmest winter. That event occurred in 2005 and nothing has since approached it. Since 1958 this year’s winter was only the eighth warmest and the public should not be misled by alarmists predicting imminent disaster.
It was one of Geelong’s warmer Augusts however; the equal fourth warmest August since 1958, but again, nothing can be read into this except that, in common with much of southern Australia, our winters have been generally warming at a slow rate for the last 40 years or so in line with current climate changes.
In a seemingly early start to spring, there were 15 very windy days with gusts exceeding 60 kph at Mt Duneed. There were three days of severe wind storm events with gusts over 90 kph. On the 21st an elderly lady was killed by a flying tree branch near Queens Park. On this day a gust of 106 kph was recorded at Mt Duneed and 120 kph at Avalon. This is Geelong’s first direct weather-related death since January, 1997, when two people were struck and killed by lightning at Eastern Park. On the 25th and 26th severe wind storm damage also occurred to property, traffic and powerlines right across Geelong, when gusts of 94 kph at Mt Duneed and 128 kph at Avalon struck as cold fronts raced through the region.
There was one frost on the 8th.