Gympie farewells one of its driest, hottest years on record

GYMPIE region has just survived one of its hottest and driest years on record, but farmers and forecasters warn 2020 could be worse.

Dry conditions sent temperatures soaring with an average daily maximum 34.6C so far this month, more than 3C above the 30-year December average of 31.3C.

The average was boosted by a scorching 41C, recorded on December 16.

But it was drought that rang alarms for farmers, most of whom received about half their average rainfall this year.

“It was not a record low, but it was possibly one of the five or six lowest rainfall years for the past century,” horticulturist and weather watcher Ken Buchanan said at Goomboorian yesterday.

“Summer rain began about March, stopped in April. We had a dry winter and no spring rains. Dams are dropping quite quickly now.

WILDLIFE REFUGEES: Driven from their usual homes by drought, fire and extreme heat, these flying foxes have set up their own temporary refugee camp on the Mary River bank in Gympie.
WILDLIFE REFUGEES: Driven from their usual homes by drought, fire and extreme heat, these flying foxes have set up their own temporary refugee camp on the Mary River bank in Gympie.

“Everyone’s on tenderhooks asking are we going to get any summer rain, because if we don’t it’s going to get very serious.”

At the far western end of the region, Kinbombi grazier John Cotter said many were wondering when their properties’ bores would run dry.

“We had 18mm the other day and it nearly evaporated as it hit the ground.

“We need rain to wet the ground and also to recharge the groundwater.

”We’ve had about 390mm for the year. “Normally we’d get about twice that.

“Really we’re in uncharted territory. Dams are going dry here and closer to Gympie and through the Mary Valley.

SALES RUSH: Gympie livestock agent Dan Sullivan had to close off his register for a Gympie cattle sale late in the year, as drought-hit farmers unloaded stock.
SALES RUSH: Gympie livestock agent Dan Sullivan had to close off his register for a Gympie cattle sale late in the year, as drought-hit farmers unloaded stock.

“Every drought seems to break into a flood and except for floods, Gympie hasn’t seen a lot of water for 10 years.”

Juanita Barrett, at Langshaw’s Serendipity Farm Animal Sanctuary, said prolonged drought meant no feed, forcing her organisation to buy hay and grain, which were “increasingly hard to come by and pretty expensive.”

BEFORE AND AFTER: Serendipity Farm Animal Centre based at Langshaw were doing really well last year with bright green grass and feed for their animals (left) and sadly a year on, their property is struggling because of the drought (right). Photo: Serendipity Farm Animal Centre
BEFORE AND AFTER: Serendipity Farm Animal Centre based at Langshaw were doing really well last year with bright green grass and feed for their animals (left) and sadly a year on, their property is struggling because of the drought (right). Photo: Serendipity Farm Animal Centre

An approximate average daily maximums for Gympie of 28.4C so far, showed a year running well up on the city’s 27.2C average over the past 100 years, and slightly above the 2017 average daily maximum of 28.2C.

Gympie’s average December rainfall of 137.7mm compared to a figure for this December so far of 41.6mm.

GYMPIE region has just survived one of its hottest and driest years on record, but farmers and forecasters warn 2020 could be worse.

Forecasters warned yesterday that 2020 would be at least as hard to predict as 2019, but the Bureau of Meteorology warned dry conditions and heat will continue and will be a sign of the times in the first weeks of the year.

Meteorologist Jess Gardner said forecasters were watching Cyclone Sarai, off the Fiji coast.

It was currently heading away from Australia, but could turn and could generate some easterly swells, which would be expected to reach Australian surf beaches in the next few days.

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