Disastrous rainfall totals were reported around Geelong in March. All areas were below average: Geelong urban area and the Bellarine received a little over 50% (eg, Breakwater 17 mm), the Golden Plains area and Anakie district around 10-20% (eg, Durdidwarrah 6 mm), Avalon 4 mm, the Colac to Cressy district less than 10 mm, and the Otways catchment below 40% (eg, Forrest 20 mm). The southern and western Otways did slightly better but were still below the long-term average (eg, Beech Forest 83 mm).
A curious result is that although the country is very dry around Colac, Lake Colac although shallow is still covered by a sheet of water. Rain in Geelong fell on 9 days, and the heaviest fall was 8.4 mm on the 17th. On several days when good rain had been predicted the result was either virga, or a particularly vicious outbreak of the notorious Geelong rain shadow, caused by the Otways and the Great Dividing Range.
Water catchments still stand at around 73% and there are no fears of drought, despite the BoM 3-monthly outlook for low rainfall and runoff. In contrast, several private agencies are predicting back to average rainfalls for the region.
March 2013 was most remarkable for the fact that no less than 4 temperature records were created: 1. The highest number of consecutive days over 30 degrees in March = 9 (previous record 6 set in 1914). 2. The highest number of consecutive days over 30 degrees in any month = 9 (previous record 8 set in January 1961 and January 1974). 3. The equal highest number of days over 30 degrees in March = 11 (equal previous record 11 set in 1940). 4. Geelong’s highest mean March temperature (average of daily maximums and minimums) = 20.9 C (equal previous record 20.5 C set in 1934 and 1974). It was NOT Geelong’s hottest maximum average, but it ran a close second to March 1940; 27.1 C compared to 27.2 C. Neither was it our highest minimum average – 14.7 C compared to 15.3 C in both 1956 and 1974. A reasonable conclusion would be that very warm Marches have all happened before, over the last hundred years, and no alarmist fears should be heeded. Autumn is always a time of great extremes in Geelong’s climate history.
Please note all these are verified BoM raw figures from 1903, and are not ‘homogenised’ or manipulated in any way.
The 9 consecutive days in question were the 4th to the 12th, inclusive. On the 5th day, (the 8th) a new record was threatened when the mercury just managed to spike to 30.0 degrees. However on the 12th the highest maximum was reached: 38.3 degrees. Lowest max was 18.2 on the 31st, and minimums ranged from 9.3 C on the 29th to 21.6 C on the 12th.
There were 3 thunder days in the urban area, 10th, 16th and 21st. Only a minor storm, not severe, resulted in heavy rain for a short time, but some brilliant lightning effects were observed. There were 4 very strong wind gusts over 60 kph with the maximum at Breakwater of 76 kph on the 28th. Smoke from a suspected deliberately lit fire at Dereel could be smelt in Geelong after 4 pm on the 27th.