February rains were above average in Geelong, but below normal in the Otways water catchment, according to Lindsay Smail of Geelong Weather Services. Mr Smail said yesterday that while urban Geelong had between 37 and 58 mm for the month, compared to the 37 mm average, areas such as Winchelsea, Forrest and Colac were around 8-16 mm below average. Even the famous Weeaproinah could only manage 77 mm of its February average of 88 mm.
Coastal areas from Apollo Bay, Anglesea and the Bellarine Peninsula all received above average falls, but inland areas were drier. He said this could be explained because most of Geelong’s rain this month had fallen on three days, the 7th, 15th and 16th, and on two of these occasions the rain originated from the south and southeast.
Mr Smail said that heavy rain on a few days was a normal summer occurrence for Geelong. As a result however, less rain ran off into the water catchments and so they did not benefit much. West Barwon Dam rainfall only totalled 29 mm.
For a week earlier this month, the official Geelong rain gauge at Mount Duneed was out of action. Twenty mm fell in that time and was not recorded by the Bureau of Meteorology. However, Geelong Weather Services continued to record the falls.
On the 26th there was a light shower of rain mixed with brown dust in the atmosphere. Most suburbs were affected when cars and washing were splattered, but in many cases the shower was too light to register in rain gauges.
Thunderstorms occurred on two days in February, the 2nd and the 16th. The one on the 2nd did not produce any rain for Geelong, but two people were struck by lightning at Jan Juc beach. On the second day, two separate thunderstorms occurred over some suburbs at 1 pm and 2.45 pm. Some hail 2 centimetres across was reported and 30 mm of rain resulted.
Since the 16th, very little rain has fallen in Geelong and elsewhere in the region. Bushfires near Colac on the 18th once again demonstrated the dryness of the land. Mr Smail believes March rains should be around average, however. The El Nino figures are still strongly negative but at this time of the year it usually means that the Geelong region’s rainfall will be back to relatively normal.
Geelong had six days of over-30 degree temperatures (the average is six), and three over-35 days compared with three. The hottest day was the 26th when the mercury reached 41 degrees. This was one of the hottest days recorded in February, the record being 43.8 on 8th February, 1983, the Ash Wednesday year. Geelong’s February nights were cooler than normal (11.3 compared to 14 degrees) but days were warmer (26.4 compared to 25.7).