Expert not ready to 'call' drought

WEATHER scientist Roger Stone says declaring the disastrous drought over can be a tricky thing.

Many Darling Downs weather watchers, buoyed by a wet start to spring, are wondering whether the horrendous drought that has hit farming regions and cities alike over the past few decades could be over.

However, Professor Roger Stone, from the University of Southern Queensland, warns against making sweeping statements.

“It is a tricky thing,” Prof. Stone said. “I think it would be lapse of me to declare the drought over until our dams are getting over 50 to 60 per cent full.”

Prof. Stone said that even though a wet September seemed unusual for Toowoomba, it was actually consistent with a La Nina pattern which features an increased probability of wetter conditions.

Prof. Stone said the type of summer coming up could improve flows into the dams.

Toowoomba Regional Councillor Paul Antonio said combined dam levels were sitting at 19.7 per cent — the highest since October, 2006.

“We are pretty pleased,” Cr Antonio said. “Our all-time low of 7.7 per cent was in December, 2009 — and that is not that long ago. Things were getting serious then.

“Our water usage no doubt has had an impact on the dam levels. Water usage is sitting at around 100 to 120 litres per person (per day) which is remarkable.”

Cr Antonio said many Darling Downs farmers would be looking forward to bumper crops.

“I think we have a brilliant set-up for summer,” he said. “Some of the winter crops are as good as I have ever seen. I think we are close to being a near record year.”

Cr Antonio said dam levels would have to reach 25 per cent before council made further changes to water restrictions.

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