Melbourne is set to record its driest October since 1914, a year in which there was a disastrous drought and a national wheat crop failure, reported The Age (30/10/2006, p.3).
Pattern similar to 92 years ago: The drought of 1914-15, which resulted in record low rain in large areas of southern Australia, coincided, like the droughts of 1937-45, with Australian involvement in a world war. Only 7.5 millimetres fell in October 1914 – so far this month there have been 8.8 millimetres with only a few showers forecast for today and tomorrow. The average rain for the month is 67 millimetres.
El Nino behind 1914 crisis: A strong El Nino – a warm ocean current off South America that causes major temperature changes – is believed to have been the reason for the severe conditions in 1914. The year started hot and Victoria had widespread bushfires in February and March which destroyed more than 100,000 hectares. Good rain brought relief in March and April, but extremely dry conditions prevailed for the rest of the year.
October records still stand: The months from May to October 1914 have been recorded as the driest for many areas of south-eastern Australia. Melbourne’s lowest October rain and hottest October day were in 1914 – 7.5 millimetres and 36.9 degrees, respectively.
Murray flow fell to 2pc: By the end of the month, the national wheat crop, then harvested mainly in the southern states, was a total failure. Rivers fell to low levels and millions of sheep, horses and cattle were moved by rail to places where feed was available. The Murray River at Echuca fell to 2 per cent of its normal flow by December and downstream of Swan Hill the river was reduced to a series of stagnant pools.
The Age, 30/10/2006, p.3
Source: Erisk Net