Big dry set to continue for NSW

By Country News

NSW is in for a mild and dry winter as parts of the state continue to struggle with drought conditions.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest climate outlook predicts dry conditions with more than a 75 per cent chance of below-average rainfall across NSW.

It follows a ‘‘very dry’’ autumn, which bureau climatologist Jonathan Pollock said was likely to rank as one of the 10 driest on record in NSW.

‘‘Large parts of NSW have had a serious to severe rainfall deficiency spanning a year or more,’’ Mr Pollock said.

The bureau said it was likely autumn would be the warmest on record for maximum temperatures.

The warmth is set to continue into winter with daytime temperatures predicted to be mild.

For farmers, the forecast represents further uncertainty as they continue to plan for the foreseeable future while hoping for rain.

NSW Farmers Association spokeswoman Sonia O’Keefe, who runs a sheep and cattle farm near Walcha (south of Armidale), said livestock producers had already been bracing for a dry winter and preparing accordingly.

‘‘(For) a lot of the state, if they got rain now it would be moisture for the spring — which would be wonderful — but it wouldn’t give a lot of pasture growth,’’ she said.

Ms O’Keefe said the forecast would be more of a concern for crop growers who have sowed with no moisture hoping for rainfall to boost growth.

‘‘There’s definitely a level of concern, but I think people are very aware the next three to four months are going to be really tough.’’

With more than one-third of NSW in drought or approaching drought, Premier Gladys Berejiklian appointed a state drought co-ordinator in mid-May to help farmers and communities battling with the worsening conditions.

‘‘We know farmers are struggling with how dry it is and we want to assure farmers we are standing with them side-by-side as they go into winter,’’ Ms Berejiklian said at the time.