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BOM winter report sees Ongerup record it’s wettest winter since 1978

A dam filled almost to the brink in the Shire of Gnowangerup. Beyond, the Stirling Ranges.  (EmaLea Davidson)

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For many in rural areas of the Great Southern, confetti-like dark spots appearing against cracked clay at the bottom of a dam can feel like nothing short of a miracle when water is scarce.

Very little can beat the smell of coming rain to lift the spirits when the weather has been less than giving.

After a spell of dry enough years to see a handful of rural towns in the Great Southern carting water to survive, the Bureau of Meteorology’s 2021 winter report confirmed what those on the land already knew – lifegiving water is finally abundant.

Great Southern towns recording their highest winter rainfall in decades

Jerramungup, Ongerup and Amelup each recorded their highest winter total rainfall for at least 20 years, the highest being Ongerup which saw 227.1mm observed in rainfall, the likes of which haven’t been seen since 1978.

The regional town’s recorded average for winter is just 142mm for comparison.

“Denmark recorded the highest winter daily rainfall of 106mm on the 21st of June, smashing their previous record of 91.7mm on the 1st of June, 1928. “

Denmark recorded the highest winter daily rainfall of 106mm on the 21st of June, smashing their previous record of 91.7mm on the 1st of June, 1928.

An water logged paddock spills over onto a road just outside the Shire of Gnowangerup. (EmaLea Davidson)

A general feeling of hope despite overall rainfall below average for the season

During the season flood crossings heaved with water and were impassable in a matter of hours, the movement so fast foam formed, swirling into oblivion.

Though tractors might now be bogged and the roads need patching, many dams are full and while overall the rainfall may be below average for the season, there is a general feeling of hope. 

Caused by westerly winds dominating southern Australia and directing frequent cold front to the south-west of Western Australia, between January and August this year the rainfall total has been well above average for the Great Southern region.  

Bureau of Meteorology Climatologist Yanhui Blockley says it may not yet be over. 

“It has been particularly wet in the southern and eastern parts of the region. 

“As indicated in the bureau’s spring outlook there is a 40-55 per cent chance of above average rainfall [for the season].” 

Water hasn’t been the only thing on people’s radars, with the above average snowfall events frequenting Bluff Knoll and attracting explorers from near and far to experience the magical feeling. 

“In a typical year Bluff Knoll experiences one snow event per year.”

“In a typical year Bluff Knoll experiences one snow event per year,” said Mr Blockley. 

“This year we had four events. 

“In 2016 Bluff Knoll recorded six events.”

Social media has been full of images over the last few months of snow seekers on Bluff Knoll, and although the season is mostly over it’s possible there still may be more snow to come for those who haven’t made it up there yet. 

The cold and woolly days aren’t completely behind us, but the handful of sunny days we have had have been plenty blissful to make up for the icy mornings – and of course there are those beautifully full dams to boot. 

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