Big wet of 2021 broke century-old records in NSW

Moree floodwaters in March. Photo by Sascha Estens.
Moree floodwaters in March. Photo by Sascha Estens.

The rain fell, and fell, and fell, across NSW in 2021 breaking records from the state's Central West to the Riverina in the south, the New England in the north and across the north coast.

The rain downgraded crops and flooded towns and broke records that had stood for more than 140 years in some places.

The wettest place was Comboyne Plateau at Mt Seaview on the NSW Mid-North Coast, where 3867 millimetres of rain fell - it's wettest year in 60 years and 197 per cent of its annual average.

Nearby on the Mid North Coast, where damaging floods were seen in March, it was the wettest year in 58 years and second wettest in more than 140 years in Wingham (1988mm, 179 per cent of its annual average) and Taree (2081mm, 177 per cent).

Condobolin in the state's Central West had its wettest year in more than 140 years with 979 millimetres. That's 219 per cent of its annual average.

Here's an interactive map of some of the rain records. Just click on the town and find out how long a rainfall record it was:

Other rainfalls of note included:

  • more than 130 years in Tumut in the Riverina (1488mm, 182 percent of its annual average)
  • more than 120 years in Wyalong in the northern Riverina (948mm, 198 percent of its annual average)
  • more than 110 years in Barraba in the New England (1162mm, 166 per cent of its annual average)
  • more than 80 years in Burcher in central NSW (991mm, 208 per cent of its annual average)
  • 71 years and second wettest in more than 110 years in Cowra in the Central West (1132mm, 184 per cent of its annual average)
  • 71 years and third wettest in more than 130 years in Gooloogong in central NSW (1099mm, 181 per cent of its annual average)

Several places, including Fowlers Gap (227mm) and Lake Victoria (190mm) had a drier year than 2020 but a wetter one then 2017-2019, according to Weatherzone's Brett Dutschke.

On the Mid North Coast, near the wettest place Mt Seaview, where three metres of rain fell for the year, avocado farmers Ernst and Penny Tiedeman, based at Comboyne, said it was a mixed blessing.

They were unable to pick their blueberry crop and their avocado harvest has been delayed because they can't get into the orchard.

They lost a lot of farm infrastructure including creek crossings, two kilometres of irrigation pipe, flooded pumps, roads washed out, and also 300-400 avocado trees due to disease.

Lapping up to the door at Currabubula Creek, Piallaway during the year. Photo by Amy Perfrement.

Lapping up to the door at Currabubula Creek, Piallaway during the year. Photo by Amy Perfrement.

"We'd rather have the rain than a drought but it hasn't been easy," Penny Tiedeman said.

Farmer, Paul Adam, who's based at Tottenham in NSW's Central West said he'd been through drought, frost, and hail in the past few years, so consistent rain was a welcome alternative at his farm, Dysart.

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However, 2021 ended in heartache for many farmers with crops quality being downgraded or lost across the state due to the amount of rain.

However, Mr Adam said despite the downgrading of his crops it was a good year with higher grain prices helping mitigate the loss of quality caused by the rain at harvest time.

Of the 668mm recorded at Dysart, 189mm came in one event in November.

Where the rain fell in 2021 courtesy of DPI.

Where the rain fell in 2021 courtesy of DPI.

Ben Nicholls of Burdenda Station, also at Tottenham, where rainfall records have been kept for 130 years, says it was one of the wettest year's recorded there with 637mm, compared to 570mm in 2020 and just 158mm in 2019.

Mr Nicholls crops wheat, oats, barely, lupins and runs sheep and cattle across 14,100 hectares and has other land at Nyngan. He said Tottenham had a fantastic year and both crops and livestock had done well, and there had been little downgrading of crops mainly at Nyngan.

Ironically, amid the great wet, Tottenham officially had less rain in 2021 than 2020.

According to Weatherzone, Tottenham in 2020 had 681mm, wetter than 2021, 649mm, but 2020-2021 (1330mm) was its wettest two years since 1983-1984 (1455mm) - so that was a unique record.

This story Century-old records fall as big wet of 2021 drenches NSW first appeared on The Land.