World Grain - July 2018 - 68
SUFFERING SEVERE DROUGHT
The return of El Niño could take it to extreme levels
by Drew Lerner
ast-central Australia has been enduring severe
drought for an extended period of time. Long
range weather forecasters are now talking about a
new El Niño event expected to develop later this year.
El Niño events are harsh on eastern Australia agricultural areas, resulting in serious drought quite often. The
return of El Niño later this year and into 2019 raises a
to the onset of El Niño conditions so that the severity of
drought will not reach extreme levels.
Rainfall in Queensland and northern New South
Wales has been well below average since February, and
the February rain event occurred mainly in southeastern
Queensland, leaving other areas in east-central Australia
quite dry. The last, more generalized rain event that impacted all of Queensland and northern New South Wales
was in October 2017.
Water supply varies greatly with the biggest shortages in Queensland and northern New South Wales.
Some rural water systems are running at 36.9% to
55.5% of normal. The nation does an exceptional job
at conserving water because of frequent droughts, but
worry is rising over the current drought because of the
potential that El Niño will evolve before there is adequate relief from drought conditions that already have
been prevailing over the past year.
El Niño events tend to suppress rain in eastern
Australia during the Southern Hemisphere spring and
summer months. Sometimes the dryness can begin earO\GHSHQGLQJRQWKHVSHFL¿FPRQWKVLQZKLFK(O1LxR
evolution begins. Most El Niño events begin in the late
spring and summer. That is the time of year that rainfall
Forecasters have been predicting the start of the next
El Niño event for later in the third quarter of this year.
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Ocean have been warming in the past few weeks, but
affecting world weather. However, the mere fact that
warming has begun and the potential is high that by
September there will be a notable step up in the warming trend greatly limits the amount of time for drought
relief to occur before El Niño begins robbing eastern
Australia of precious water resources for another year.
the last week of June and additional rain was expected
in early July. However, none of the rain was expected
to be great enough to recharge soil moisture. There is
still plenty of time for greater rain to fall prior to the
start of El Niño, but this is not usually a time of year
that promotes large amounts of rain.
Winter wheat, barley and canola planting from
northern New South Wales into Queensland has been
on hold except in irrigated production areas since midApril when the planting season normally begins. A few
meager rain events have occurred, and a small amount
Much of Australia is dealing with a severe drought. Map courtesy
of World Weather Inc.
July 2018 / World Grain / www.World-Grain.com