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4 January, 2021

Analysing 100 years of rainfall data

The lowest recording was 2018 with 144mm which smashed the previous record low of 261.3mm in 1957.

By Gerard Walsh COLUMNIST

Greymare rainfall.

IT took to December 19 to reach our average rainfall figure last year, but we are still catching up from a record low of 144.0mm in 2019.

My family has been recording rain for the Bureau of Meteorology since November 1920, so we have enough recordings to make some comparisons at our property at Greymare west of Warwick.

I am the third generation of our family to measure the rain and send away recordings at the end of the month.

As with everything, we had an old 50-point measuring glass and still have the old glass as my mother refused to give it back when BOM arrived with a 20mm (80-point) gauze.

(I could add I learnt a bit about hoarding from my mother, so the points gauge is put away carefully. I recently found a diary which dates back to the 19th century.)

We recorded 570.6mm to the end of November last year and only reached our average with a fall of 38mm on December 19.

The December recording at Greymare was 96.4mm which took the year to 667mm.

Mean rainfall for the 100 years is 651mm and the median figure is 656.3mm.

In a century, we only missed recording the rain for the last eight months of 1952 and I don’t know why as I wasn’t born at the time.

The lowest recording was 2018 with 144mm which smashed the previous record low of 261.3mm in 1957.

The 1956 recording was 1095.3mm which put the two-year total at 1356.6mm compared to 544.6 in 2018-2019.

No wonder there were semi-trailers galore on the highway bringing hay from Victoria and South Australia to the Sunshine State.

In a century, our third lowest recording was 376.2mm in 2002 and the next lowest 409.4mm in 1923.

We ended up feeding cattle in 2019 with forage hay and stubble from the Darling Downs, sugar cane hay from Jacobs Well, oaten hay from Victoria as well as loose lick, a molasses-based supplement, and a feedlot grain mix.

Two cows in a mob of 50 odd died in December 2019, while most of the others got fat on the grain.

I put the losses down to the mob bosses chasing the really poor cattle from the grain.

Interesting how times change with drought feeding.

We used a lot of cottonseed in the 1990s when we only had annual recordings between 435.9mm and 559.3mm in a five-year period.

In 2019, we did not feed any cottonseed.

During another drought, many south Queensland producers bought a concrete mixer to manufacture our own lick blocks.

I haven’t heard of anyone making blocks in recent years.

In fact, salt blocks were the main supplementary feed for a lot of the 20th century.


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