STUNNING: Lightning strikes looking towards Dimboola from Warracknabeal.

RESIDENTS across the Wimmera Mallee enjoyed a light display that only nature can provide when the first storm of the year rolled through the region on Wednesday night.

The light show was simply spectacular, with all types of lightning brightening up the night skies and turning the dark skies into various shades of grey and murky purples.

In addition to the magnificent light show, many areas across the region received a good fall of rain that can only help the farmers with cropping which is now underway.

Hit and miss

While there was good rain, as with all storms, the rain was patchy with a wide-range of amounts from as little as 3.5mm in Rainbow to 25.5mm
in Warracknabeal. Chris Dovaston who farms near Crymelon said rainfall of 35mm had fallen on his farm, however farms only four or
five kilometres north received only 17mm.

The tale of differing falls continued where Alan Bell, north of Warracknabeal received 18mm while the Tickner’s at Brim West received 10mm.

Farmers at Lah received less with 8mm recorded at Andrew King’s property which his brother, Peter, who farms ‘next door’ received 13.5mm.

Residents from Rainbow, while not receiving the same as other places, did report ‘a heavy downpour’. Lake Hindmarsh, south of Rainbow received only 2-3mm of rain.


Marshall Rodda, at Tarranyurk, said he was excited with
the rain.

“I’m excited for cropping. We have been dry sowing and the rain gives us the confidence the sowing will germinate,” he said.

On his properties the rain varied from site to site, with 23mm recorded at his homestead while another gauge 1.5km away showed falls of only 11mm.

In a moment of seriousness, Mr Rodda said he knew that many farmers were still waiting for the rain that others received last night.

“While it’s early in the season, the rain does give confidence and there is talk of more rain next week which might just fall in places that were
missed this time,” he said.

Excellent start

Andrew Weiderman who has property stretching from Rupanyup to Stawell said the rain was an excellent start.

He had falls ranging from 24mm in the northern part of his property to a massive 60mm in the southern section.

“We generally don’t get falls like this in May; usually it’s only 10-15mm at this time of the year,” he said.

“It’s an excellent start but we are still extremely focussed on spring.”
“This does give us confidence as we are cropping,” he said.


Despite the ferocious rains. a VICSES spokesman said volunteers had only received two requests for assistance in Warracknabeal for leaky roofs.

No major damage in the Warracknabeal area has thus far been reported.

Further afield, Horsham the VICSES responded to trees down at the height of the storm.

Stawell seemed to get hit with the worst of the storm cell with flash flooding and water inundation in several shops throughout the town.

Dr Andrew Watkins, the head of long-range forecasting at the Bureau of Meteorology said the rain was exciting for those looking out for an autumn break.

“It depends where you were but falls of between 10 and potentially up above 50 millimetres of rainfall in some locations is a bonus,” he said.

The autumn break is the first good rainfall that sets off the germination to start the growing season.

“There’s a fairly complex situation evolving throughout south-eastern Australia,” Dr Watkins said.

To get rainfall, he said, you needed two things: moisture and a trigger to make that moist air rise, condense and fall as rain.

Bureau of Meterology data showed the storm dropped 25.5mm in Warracknabeal from 9am (standard data recording time) but more than half fell in a downpour between 8pm and 9.30pm.

The rain was welcomed as the region had one of the driest starts to the year on record. The rainfall for Warracknabeal has more than double
the amount received from January to the end of April.

In that time, BOM records show 24.2mm fell in the town, and now within the space of a few hours that figure has shot up to 49.7mm.