Australia government says entire state of New South Wales is in winter 2018 drought
On Wednesday, the New South Wales, Australia Department of Primary Industries (DPI) reported fifteen percent of New South Wales, Australia (NSW) was in "intense drought", and the rest of the state "in drought" or "drought-affected". Farmers were reportedly running out of food for cattle and had to make difficult decisions about the collection times for their crops; food for cattle became harder to get, and more expensive.
The report from DPI indicated "up to 48% of the state as Drought Affected, 37% in Drought and 15% in Intense Drought". The areas of intense drought included "parts of Western, North West, Central West, Central Tablelands, South East, Hunter, Greater Sydney and Northern Tablelands LLS regions", according to the report. The drought indicator was based on agronomic data, remote sensing, and field reports, including soil moisture and pasture conditions.
The report from DPI named "the southern alpine zone, the greater Hilltops (Young) region and parts of the south and north coast" as areas with better conditions.
Furthermore, according to ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), the chair of the Australian Fodder Industry Association, Frank McRae, said many farmers in NSW had barely any food for their cattle. He said, "There's pretty much virtually nothing in NSW and supplies are rapidly drying up in southern Victoria [state bordering NSW on the south] [...] You have to go back to 1981–1982 to see a drought this widespread and so severe."
The BBC reported Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying some farmers bought hay for animal feed for as much as AUD 10,000 per truckload.
NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair remarked many people were hoping for rain to come and farmers were needed to make difficult decisions about the best viable time for crops collection. He said, "This is tough, there isn't a person in the state that isn't hoping to see some rain for our farmers and regional communities [...] Producers are now faced with some very difficult decisions on whether to graze sown crops or rely on potential rainfall in the next two months in order to increase yield production."
According to ABC's reports, Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) meteorologist Jane Golding said these conditions were unlike previously observed climatic conditions in NSW with rain in June, July and August. He said, "This year we haven't really seen either of those and last year as well we didn't really see too much of the either of those rain-bearing systems making their way into NSW [...] It is unusually dry and also unusually warm which exacerbates the problems, so the warm temperatures dry out the soils even more."
According to BBC, Queensland, north of NSW, was also experiencing dry conditions, as well as parts of South Australia and Victoria. The report from DPI mentioned last autumn's failed growing season.
About the forecast conditions and risks, the report from DPI said dry and warm conditions were "likely" to continue in the next three months, with an El Niño 50% likely in NSW in spring, which would mean depressed rainfall. The Australian forecasting services have an El Niño Watch on the region according to the report.
Image: Dan Gold