5 December 2023

Don't expect a huge wet season in Cape as El Niño kicks in

| Matt Nicholls
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There will still be a wet season in the Cape, but BoM experts are predicting a below-average summer rainfall in the Cape.

Despite the emerging presence of a cyclone in the Coral Sea, Cape York residents should be prepared for a drier-than-usual December, experts warn.

Apart from the odd shower, very little rain has been recorded in the region over the last six weeks, leaving locals begging for the heavens to open.

Just 4mm was recorded at the Weipa Airport in November, down on last year’s 146mm and the monthly average of 92.4mm, while at Cooktown 25.8mm was tipped out in November, down on the average of 58.5mm.

And with the Bureau of Meteorology announcing this summer to be impacted by El Niño, Cape York residents should be expecting a well-below-average wet season.

The last time the country was hit by El Niño, the wet season in the Cape took a huge hit.

In 2015-16, just 1200mm was recorded at both Weipa and Cooktown between October and April.

Weipa’s average rainfall for that period is 2000mm, while Cooktown usually measures about 1500mm in a wet season.

Weipa Town Authority chair Michael Rowland said the demand for water was soaring.

Last week, the WTA asked residents to cut back on their water usage so its systems could keep up.

Weipa sources its water from an underground aquifer, but it needs to be pumped and treated before it’s released into the town supply.

“It happens almost every year at this time with a huge demand for water,” Mr Rowland said.

“We’re seeing above and beyond the average daily usage.

“Once the rain comes, we’ll see a massive drop in usage, but we’re asking people to be sensible about their watering hours and to make sure they are not leaving sprinklers on for hours on end.”

Scattered storms and showers are expected across the Cape this week, but no major rain has been forecast by the Bureau of Meteorology.

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