REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Regional Australia: So, anyway, been a bit wet then ...

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Katherine's only supermarket, Woolies, is submerged in 1998 in the worst natural disaster to befall the town since it was settled.

Katherine's only supermarket, Woolies, is submerged in 1998 in the worst natural disaster to befall the town since it was settled.

Most of us were scolded as children for talking about people behind their backs.

Yet there is a group of people (and no, it's not politicians) who even our parents were guilty of relaxing those strict rules.

Weather forecasters.

We are taught it is normal in one-on-one meetings not to arrive at the main point immediately, it is polite most often to discuss the weather as a ice-breaker.

Bagging out weather forecasters for "getting it wrong again" is a national pastime.

For all the computing power and wealth of historical data they possess, meteorology is an inexact science.

I was alarmed to read in an article recently a forecaster apologising for being even inaccurate than normal.

Because of pandemic restrictions there are fewer flights between the states and territories and also overseas.

The pilots feed back real-time weather data to the bureau - I did not know this.

"There a big black cloud which looks to have a lot of rain in it heading straight for (add town's name here)," the pilot radios in.

Or some such.

I have guilty of publicly wondering what the big team of forecasters do in Darwin. Sure, in the wet season there's a lot to keep them busy.

People want more warning about a potential Cyclone Tracy heading their way. Or even Cyclone Les.

You might not have heard about Les, he arrived in the Top End in 1998.

Enough water was flying under Katherine's twin bridges to fill Sydney Harbor every 12 hours.

Enough water was flying under Katherine's twin bridges to fill Sydney Harbor every 12 hours.

Les didn't do a lot, wandered about a bit and then detoured inland and basically stopped being a cyclone at all, just a big rain storm. A very wet storm which walloped the outback town of Katherine with the worst flood since its settlement.

Many people say Katherine still hasn't totally recovered from that disaster.

Tropical weather is unpredictable, the more experts we have up here the better.

I have questioned what they do in the dry season.

'The Dry' lasts six months or more and one day is basically the same as the next. Warm and dry, no chance of rain.

Just copy and paste that statement across seven days and you have the weekly forecast.

I have questioned whether there is an energetic ping pong tournament going on, or time to practice the squiggly lines they put in the synoptic charts.

I am kidding, of course.

This year is going to be a La Nina year, these weather experts tell us.

Most of us are familiar with that moniker now even if we don't know why - La Nina is wet, El Nino is dry.

Katherine in the Top End has had two of the worst wet seasons on record.

While it fears a flood like 1998, it is also the only community in the Territory on water restrictions because of PFAS contamination in its drinking water.

Outback folk like their gardens as much as anyone else.

Katherine River today, is scarcely flowing as a river at all at the tail end of the dry season.

Katherine River today, is scarcely flowing as a river at all at the tail end of the dry season.

Bores have gone dry, the Katherine River is barely worthy of the name.

The bureau's staff in Darwin were so excited on Tuesday they put the table tennis on hold to issue a breathless statement saying Katherine had received 5mm in an overnight storm.

That's right, 5mm!

The people at BOM have become caught up in this wet season roller coaster.

Last year Katherine received zero rain in September, normal enough fare for the dry season.

So 5mm is a gift to be discussed, debated and celebrated.

We will be sure to report back to our VORA readers if Katherine receives even more bounty from the skies.

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