Cracks in ground after no rainfall.
Cracks in ground after no rainfall. Robert Mustow

IT'S OFFICIAL: We've had the driest January ever recorded

THE Northern Rivers could have just experienced its driest ever January following a drier-than-average December, with some towns not receiving a single drop of rain.

For some areas it was the lowest rainfall since 1900.

There's been rain to the north and rain to the south, and January is typically a wet month, but some towns haven't had any rain.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, north-eastern NSW's average rainfall for January exceeds 200mm.

Nimbin resident Sue Churchill said on Facebook "a few sprinkles" on her windscreen one day this week was the only rain her place received in January.

While the Bureau of Meteorology is yet to release its online summary and cannot confirm if sites are the driest on record, online data shows the previous record for the driest January was 12.3mm in 1888.

The BoM said many locations were "on track" to see their lowest January rainfall.

But 2019 so far has seen Lismore record a mere 3.2mm - which is better than its neighbours.

Rainfall totals for January 2019:

  • Lismore - 3.2mm
  • Casino - 1mm
  • Byron Bay - 3mm
  • Ballina - 2.4mm
  • Tabulam - 0.6mm

Senior BoM climatologist Robyn Duell said there was some warmth in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which meant there was an El Nino watch.

"We've been watching very closely if we will go into El Nino this year and at times the ocean has been quite near the thresholds over the past 12 months," Ms Duell said.

"Sometimes when we do have that ocean pattern we can see drier than usual conditions.

"It's almost certain it will be the warmest January on record for NSW and Australia.

"There's been records falling all over the place for daily records, monthly records and duration of heat events as well.

"There's been so many records that have been broken it's been like studying for exams - it's hard to keep them all in your head."

Previous records for the driest January:

  • Casino - 4.9mm in 1884
  • Lismore - 12.3mm in 1888
  • Byron - 18.9mm in 1952
  • Ballina - 36.2mm in 2003
  • Tabluam - 18.8mm in 2002

Casino Mayor Robert Mustow said the area was becoming desperate for rain.

"I purchased my property in 1976 and have never seen it this dry in January," he said.

"The ground has opened up with massive cracks."

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