Weekend rain barely enough to settle the dust

Published 17 February 2014

Dry river bedWhile there is little doubt the slow steady rain over the weekend across the region was very welcome, it simply wasn’t enough to call the downpour a ‘drought-breaker’.

University of New England Professor Martin Thoms from the Riverine Landscapes Research Lab says simply the rain over the last few days was ‘a good start’.

Just back after a field trip to examine the drought’s impact on our western rivers, Professor Thoms says while the rain system may have seemed the answer to many farmers prayers, the reality is that rain was no more than a dusting to our desperately dry land.

“One way to imagine just how dry our country really is, could be to compare it with a kitchen sponge. When the sponge is completely dry it forms a hard crust, which needs plenty of water to break through and soak the rest of the sponge.

“Our land has been dry for so long that most of the topsoil moisture has completely gone and we need a lot more steady soaking rain to rehabilitate the country.”

Professor Thoms says it is unlikely any of the rain from the last few days will flow through to river systems.

“We’d need at least another two weeks of steady, persistent rain before we saw any meaningful inflow.”

Professor Thoms says one benefit from the rain might be a slight green touch to the land with the potential for some fresh green pick available to stock and native animals in the next few days.