Long-term rain ‘unlikely’

USQ Professor Roger Stone. Photo Dave Noonan / The Chronicle, The Chronicle Toowoomba
USQ Professor Roger Stone. Photo Dave Noonan / The Chronicle, The Chronicle Toowoomba Dave Noonan

DECEMBER rain was the exception, not the rule, and the odds of the drought breaking were "slim", according to a leading academic.

Professor Roger Stone, a climatologist at the University of Southern Queensland, said he and his team could hardly believe it when they saw incoming rain on their charts in November.

"This could be regarded as useful relief rain, rather than any long-term shift," he said.

"Unfortunately, the pattern in the Pacific (ocean) is still fairly much the same.

"December showed up as the best spark in an otherwise dry period."

He said a sudden burst of easterly winds across the equator on the Pacific Ocean in November had manifested as rain three weeks later, in accordance with USQ's rainfall charts.

The current weather cycle, which he described as "borderline El Nino", was comparable with that seen between 1991 and 1995, when drought was occasionally relieved with heavy downpours.

Professor Stone works internationally with organisations like the United Nations.

He believes eastern Australia, Indonesia, parts of India, South Africa, north-east Brazil and Central America were facing almost identical drought conditions.

Meanwhile, Central China, Western Europe and Eastern Africa are at risk of flooding due to incessant rain.

"The world is usually out of balance, sadly," he said.

He said the drought, if it were to end, would end in autumn, although this was "unlikely".

"Through our long-term models from Europe and the USA, which model ocean temperatures, it is not showing up as a likely situation," he said.

"Perhaps people could make some money by buying cattle in central Queensland as the price jumps up.

"We are keeping our eyes open to opportunities."

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