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Garden city suffers driest year on record,23599,21734271-2,00.html

May 15, 2007 11:49am
Article from: AAP

* Melbourne notches up driest year on record
* Less than half the average annual rainfall recorded
* Follows 10 years of below-average rainfall

MELBOURNE has notched up its driest year on record, with less than half the average annual rain falling on the garden city.

The 40-year record was smashed at 9am (AEST) today with a measly 316.4mm of rainfall recorded in the past 365 days.

Melbourne's average annual rainfall is 638.8mm, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Big dry

The record proves what Melburnians already know, that Victoria is still in the grip of a drought.

"This record shows that unprecedented severe drought conditions persist in Melbourne and surrounding areas over the last year," the bureau's head of climate analysis David Jones said.

The previous record was 318mm set in 1967-68.

Weather bureau warning

The record follows an unprecedented 10-year pattern of below-average rainfall, prompting a dire warning from the weather bureau.

"Melbourne will need to experience significantly higher than average rainfall for sustained periods for water catchments to return to near-normal levels," Dr Jones said.

Water restrictions remain at level 3a in Melbourne, despite water storages yesterday reaching the stage four trigger point of 29.3 per cent capacity.

The Victorian Government has refused to introduce the tougher bans, with Water Minister John Thwaites holding out to protect jobs in water-dependant industries, including car washes and nurseries.
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