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Rainfall a welcome surprise

Rain in Bourke on Monday. Photo TWH

James Knight and Jyelan MCkellar keeping dry during Satuirday's storm. Photo TWH

It may have been hit and miss, but the unexpected arrival of rain over much of north western NSW over the past week has brought with it renewed hope for more.

It wasn’t drought-breaking, but it was enough to raise river heights, in some places, enough to trigger minor flood watch bulletins from the State Emergency Service.

The rain topped up storage in areas lucky enough to record decent falls.

Areas of the Walgett Shire fared best, with some unofficial gauges totalling up to 240mm. Other Walgett residents reported up to 116 mm just on Sunday night.

Landholder Angus Geddes has a property on the Narran floodplain between Goodooga, Brewarrina and Lightning Ridge and had heard rain on the roof almost every night for the past week.

Like others, he said he was surprised by the heavy falls - but very grateful.

“It’s been very patchy, but since the storms started, we have had rainfall almost every night,” he said.

“In one paddock we measured 120mm in just one storm.

“Here at the house we had 7mm on Monday night, out of the blue, and the previous nights we had 42mm, 4mm, 59mm, 36mm and 37mm, all in the past week.

“It’s been fantastic to get so much rain, and a real surprise,” Mr Geddes said.

Across parts of the region, other landholders also enjoyed significant falls. At Wiralla station on the West Bogan Road, 132 mm was measured in the gauge by Monday morning, almost topping the 137 mm total for the entire year.

In Bourke, average falls of around 70mms were recorded over the weekend, but the storms brought more than just rain, with a fallen tree taking out the power on Monday and several residents reporting minor damage.

By Monday morning, the SES had issued minor flood warnings for the Macquarie and Bell Rivers, with flood watches also issued for the Namoi, Castlereagh, Turon and Bogan Rivers and Molong Creek.

The SES also issued a warning to residents in the vicinity of Willara Crossing and on the Macquarie River downstream of Burrendong Dam to stay informed about rising levels, although at this stage, there are no serious flood threats.

The Bureau of Meteorology said two upper-level troughs were the drivers.

The first trough hovered above a large area of northwest NSW, with an upper-level low stalling for several few days over the heart of the Murray Darling Basin.

Senior meteorologist for WeatherZone Brett Dutschke said because the rain was the result of thunderstorm activity, it was not an even distribution across a wide area. Local totals over 100mm were possible, despite the overall average falls measuring considerably less.

“The atmosphere has been really dynamic and unstable, with a lot of humidity in the upper levels getting increasingly cold and unstable, and this air was moving in from South Australia where there have been massive storms,” he said.

“There was a severe storm warning across much of western NSW, but by Thursday, it looks like it will be dry across most of the state.”

The official totals for the week ending Monday, November 27 were: Bourke - 77mm, Walgett Airport - 81 mm and Walgett town - 65mm, Lightning Ridge - 70 mm, Brewarrina - 61 mm, Nyngan - 58 mm, Goodooga - 49 mm. […]

Read more in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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