Autumn break recorded in Gippsland

Sale had its highest autumn rainfall total in more than three decades in 2021. Pictured, a flooded Lake Guthridge pier offers fishermen more of a walk-in experience back in March. File photo

GIPPSLAND had a wetter than average autumn, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s
autumn summary — more than welcome after years of consecutive drought in central and east Gippsland.
While rainfall totals for autumn were below to very much below average across much of western Victoria, East Sale, Darriman and Giffard had their highest total autumn rainfall
in more than three decades, and Orbost had its highest total autumn rainfall on record.
Balook, near Tarra Bulga, was the wettest place in Victoria this autumn, recording 541.8mm for the season, while nearby Madalya recorded the highest daily rainfall total at 170mm on March 24, when a low pressure system brought falls of more than 100mm to parts of Gippsland.
Averaged across the state, rainfall was 23 per cent below the autumn average of 159mm.
The season began with a wetter than average March, followed by a much drier than average April; May brought some heavy falls, but for the state overall, it was drier than average.
Daytime temperatures were close to average across the state, with the mean daytime
temperature for Victoria in autumn was 0.1 degrees Celsius above the autumn average.
Victoria’s lowest daily maximum temperature this autumn was −3.9 degrees Celsius, recorded at Mount Hotham on May 15, and Combienbar, near Cann River, had its coldest autumn day on record on the same day.
Victoria’s year-to-date mean minimum temperature was around 0.1 degrees Celsius below average, the coolest since 2005.
During autumn, Gippsland also braced itself through damaging easterly winds along the
coast on March 23 and 24, as a low pressure system crossed the southern New South Wales coast.
The strongest wind gust of 133 kilometres per hour was recorded at Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse on March 24.
A strong cold front on April 10 brought a sharp decrease in temperatures to the state, and snow to the elevated parts of Victoria — Mount Baw Baw, Lake Mountain and Mount Buller recorded between 20 and 40cm of snow.
Lighter snowfalls were recorded at Falls Creek and Mt Hotham, with some graupel and light
snow flurries observed to lower elevations at Marysville and the Dandenong Ranges.
More snow fell on the Victorian Alps in the wake of vigorous cold fronts that crossed Victoria on April 20 and May 14.
A cold front and a low pressure system that crossed the state on May 10 brought showers and thunderstorms, with moderate flooding May 11 in the Cann River near Chandler’s Creek, and in the Genoa River.
Widespread frost was observed in many parts of Victoria on the last several mornings of the season, including in Sale, where temperatures plummeted to -1.9 degrees Celsius.
The bureau also released its winter outlook late last week, predicting a warmer than average winter and neutral rainfall for Gippsland.
Latrobe City and Wellington and East Gippsland shires are expected to have neutral chance (50 per cent likely) of meeting their median rainfall totals, with no indication for above or below average rainfall locally.
Similarly, the three local government areas all have very likely (above 80 per cent) chances of exceeding median temperatures.
Sale is expected to push past its median maximum temperature of 14.9 degrees, and not drop down quite as far as its median minimum of 4.4 degrees.
The region joins the majority of Victoria and all of Tasmania in a much warmer winter.
In fact, minimum temperatures for June, July, and July to September are each likely to be
warmer than average almost nationwide, except for western parts of Western Australia.
One of the bureau’s climatologists, Jonathan Pollock, said autumn had been wetter than average in Gippsland, while temperatures were average, with a La Niña weather system finishing up in March.
“Our major climate drivers are neutral at the moment, but we are paying close attention to
what’s happening in the Indian Ocean, with some warmer than usual sea surface temperatures in the east there, that could be enhancing seasonal rainfall for Australia,” he said.