“Geelong’s rainfall for October was in the lowest 20% of all recorded falls since 1871,” said Lindsay Smail, Director of Geelong Weather Services yesterday, when commenting on the poor monthly regional rainfalls. Geelong’s 27 mm was only half of that normally expected in October, and the city had only had 60% of the rain it normally gets up until this time of the year. “If anyone doubts we have an El Nino just because we don’t have water restrictions, the figures are very clear,” he added. In spite of the low regional totals the Otways water catchment areas, while receiving less than average rains overall for the last few months, are in a fairly healthy state, with neither restrictions nor underground pumping expected to be used this season.
Minimum temperatures averaged 0.6 degrees below the normal of 8.4, and maximums exceeded the normal (18.1) by 1.1 degrees, thus resulting in a slightly warmer October than average.
Strong winds exceeded gusts of 62 kph, or gale force, on ten days, a surprisingly high figure. The strongest of these winds occurred on the 18th, when gusts up to 107 kph were recorded at Leopold. Similar gusts in Belmont cut power, blew several roofs off buildings and created other widespread damage.
On that day the strong northwesterly winds carried with them large volumes of red dust from Victoria’s drought-stricken north, then when light rain fell over Geelong later the familiar red rain or mud rain effect was seen to have created filthy messes on cars and other property.
Red rain is not uncommon during dry summers, but such an occurrence in October gives potent evidence of the already devastating effects of the drought.
On the evening of the 12th a spectacular thunder and lightning display lit up the whole region for several hours between 10 pm and 3 am. Hundreds of cloud-to-ground lightning bolts struck the urban area, mostly causing little damage, but unfortunately two horses were killed at Moolap.