Records tumbling as region weathers months of hot dry
May was a month of extremes for Geraldton, with the city breaking three weather records, including its driest autumn.
Between March and May, the Bureau of Meteorology recorded just 6mm of rain at Geraldton Airport, smashing the previous record of 16mm in 2006.
In autumn last year, 39.6mm fell at Geraldton Airport, though about 35mm of that came in the last week of May.
Geraldton also had its driest May on record this year, with just 1.8mm landing in the rain gauge.
The previous record was 2.8mm in May, 1948. To put these figures in context, the average autumn rainfall at Geraldton Airport, which has records dating back to 1941, is 103.6mm.
The average March rainfall is 18.9mm. For April, the average is 19.5mm, and for May it is 65.2mm.
Despite the lack of rain this year, Geraldton recorded its coldest ever May minimum temperature — a brisk 1.1C on May 18.
The previous record of 2.1C was recorded on May 31, 1964, at the old Bureau of Meteorology site about 1km north of Geraldton Airport.
BOM Geraldton duty observer Patrick Ramsdale said the dry autumn was caused by high-pressure systems in southern WA that blocked cold fronts from travelling this far north.
Geraldton can finally expect showers on Thursday, with the bureau predicting falls of 4-10mm.
“The winter rainfall outlook for Geraldton is neutral, which means there’s a roughly equal chance of a wetter or drier than average season,” Mr Ramsdale said.
“Having said that, you don’t have to go that far south of Geraldton to get into an area where you’re likely to have a drier than average season.”
Geraldton’s average winter rainfall is 232.1mm. Mr Ramsdale said there was an 85 per cent chance of Geraldton receiving at least 150mm this winter.
“The chance of above 200mm falling is between 65 and 75 per cent, and we’re looking at less than 25 per cent chance of receiving at least 250mm over winter,” he said.
“The other issue which is definitely very significant is that root zone soil moisture is currently very much below average around Geraldton.”
The hottest May temperature recorded last month was 31.8C, which did not come close to beating the high of 36.6C, recorded on May 3, 1972.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails