Near record-breaking rainfall surprises small town of Condobolin as it recovers from severe drought | Ralph-Lauren

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Rain has unexpectedly saturated part of New South Wales’ central west, surprising and delighting farmers and business owners recovering from the worst drought in living memory.

The Bureau of Meteorology recorded 97.6 millimetres at its station at Condobolin’s airport in the 24 hours to 9:00am, or around a quarter of the town’s annual average of 416mm.

It is the highest total recorded at the site since BOM started recording rainfall there in 1994.

A dirt track, cleared for a new fence line, wet and covered in puddles in a cropping paddock.
This fence line was being renewed before 125mm fell on Thursday night and Friday morning.(Supplied: Noel Sutherland)

In town, the owner of the newsagency Vicki Hanlon recorded even more with 125mm in her gauge.

A flooded machinery shed.
This machinery shed was flooded by the unexpected rain event.(Supplied: Noel Sutherland)

It does not quite break the all-time record for the area which the BOM recorded as 131mm in 1956 and 130mm in 1885 at its gauge at the Condobolin Retirement Village.

The area is still recovering from many years of severe drought.

Ms Hanlon remarked things were already looking reasonable before the downpour, but the landscape had started to dry out again.

A bare brown paddock under a blue sky.
Condobolin was badly affected by three years of drought between 2017 and 2020 which saw farmers sell livestock.(ABC Rural: Tim Fookes)

“We’ve had a little bit of off-and-on rain … but we were really in need of this last little bit,” she said.

A road in western New South Wales covered in water.
Surrounding towns like Euabalong West also received a deluge.(Supplied: Vivian Lemottee)

Chair of the NSW Farmers Condobolin branch Graeme McDonald said he had 72mm in the gauge at his farm, 30 kilometres west of town, at 7:00am.

He called the fall “heartening”.

It comes after a record-breaking harvest, and Mr McDonald said the “brilliant” rain will improve the confidence of producers to put a crop in.

“It’s just amazing what’s happened here. Compared to this time last year, things were very desperate,” he said.

A large puddle in front of round hay bales.
Hay left out to dry before shedding was flooded. It’s not clear if it will be lost.(Supplied: Noel Sutherland)

But Mr McDonald said the rain appeared to be patchy, or at least isolated, with only about 23mm recorded on his other property north of the town.

Weatherzone forecaster Graeme Brittain said the rain had been “very hit and miss”.

He said the unexpected downpour was a surprise as “it’s difficult to forecast records being broken”.

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