DRY TIMES: Professor Roger Stone says models indicate the only chance of useful rain for the rest of the year is next month.
DRY TIMES: Professor Roger Stone says models indicate the only chance of useful rain for the rest of the year is next month. Contributed

Climatologist delivers bad news for region's farmers

THE extended dry period has left the region's producers scratching their heads at when the next rainfall event will be to ease the stress of feeding livestock and irrigating crops.

However, leading climatologist Professor Roger Stone has delivered bad news for the region's farmers.

Prof Stone said weather models indicated the only chance of useful rain for the rest of the year was next month.

"There are two parts to the outlook. Firstly, we can still pick up some rain in the next month or so, which could help with stored soil moisture," Prof Stone said.

"Secondly, the longer-term models, including the highly regarded European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) , are all indicating a high probability of a dry end to winter and dry conditions into spring and early summer," he said.

"For Queensland and NSW growers, this longer-term outlook translates to a 20 per cent chance of getting normal rainfall, so it is not impossible, it is just not probable."

In contrast, Prof Stone said there was still a 40 to 60 per cent chance of rainfall across the region over the next four weeks, but amounts were likely to be varied and patchy.

"Decision-makers in agricultural production always need to prepare for a range of possible outcomes, often using very conservative management strategies to reduce the negative impacts of likely climate extremes on seasonal time scales," he said.