The 27th of May was the first really cold day of the year. Prior to that the year, and autumn, has seemed warmer than usual. And through May Bairnsdale has had a couple of runs of 20 degree plus days to reinforce this perception. Outside the plants seem in agreement as the autumn leaves of plane trees are only about half gone and the leaves of oak trees are still mostly green with some leaves barely turned and a few others scattered on the ground. It remains to be seen whether the region has notched up another warming record.
With regards rainfall we still appear to be in a deficit and the irrigation ban on the Mitchell River at Lindenow remains. I have not had any other river reports recently. In the hinterland following one or two nice falls of an inch or more much of the grazing land is now in a green drought. One farmer told me there is enough feed to ‘run a lawn mower over the place without cutting any grass’ – in other words not very much. Another mentioned there was enough ‘green pick’ for his lambs whilst still feeding out for his sheep.
But the most astounding thing about my weather report is that in my garden I have for the first time ever ripe tomatoes on the vine in winter. Like the winter bushfire we had near Cape Conran less than 2 years ago this is just another indicator that the warming we so often think of as happening in some indeterminate future is with us now and has been for some time. It is a reminder that much of this warming will be gradual and barely discernible – in the milder seasons, as well as at night.
And in case you are wondering if I am the only person observing these minor variations around me some agile individual recently painted the above graffiti on the old Bairnsdale railway bridge. He or she no doubt is not so concerned with the ‘barely discernible’ warming, but with the increase in extreme weather events – floods, droughts and related bushfires. Increasingly it looks as though the current green drought will only be broken by one or more of these floods.