Heavy rainfall won't be enough to break Australia's drought

New South Wales can expect significant rainfall over the coming days, but it won’t be enough to break drought conditions.

An estimated 30 to 80 millimetres is forecast to fall over fire grounds in the Snowy Mountains, southwest of Sydney and South Coast regions, from Thursday.

Areas near Armidale, Guyra and Glen Innes can expect 8-15mm, followed by up to 20mm on Friday and Saturday.

Weatherzone meteorologist Craig McIntosh told Yahoo News Australia while some areas will experience “great rainfall” it “won’t be enough to break the drought”.

Australian farmer Richard Gillham carries his tired dog on his shoulder after feeding his sheep in a drought-affected paddock on his property 'Barber's Lagoon' located on the outskirts of the north-western New South Wales town of Boggabri.
Australian farmer Richard Gillham at his property on the outskirts of Boggabri. Source: Getty Images

Western NSW, unfortunately, is forecast for less rainfall, with Dubbo receiving 8-20mm on Thursday and as little as 3mm on Friday.

Bourke, in the state’s northwest, is forecast for 3-10mm on Thursday, and a possible 1mm on Friday.

Firefighters have welcomed the forecast as the best news in months, but the Bureau of Meteorology said the rain could be good and bad news.

"Hopefully some of this heavy rainfall will fall over fire sites and help control or even extinguish fires," meteorologist Sarah Scully said on Tuesday.

"But it's a bit of a double-edged sword because heavy rainfall and gusty thunderstorms bring the potential for flash flooding, particularly in the burnt-out areas of NSW and Victoria which are now vulnerable to landslips and trees coming down."

A photograph taken on August 26, 2019 shows cattle standing in a paddock on a drought-affected farm near Armidale in regional New South Wales.
Cattle stand on a drought-affected farm near Armidale in August. Source: Getty Images

Mr Fitzsimmons said filtration and other equipment is being deployed into the water systems to protect drinking supplies.

The Bega Valley Shire Council said it would work with the RFS to manage any impacts caused by the deluge.

"Weather predictions indicate conditions are favourable over the next week for the containment effort," the council posted on its Facebook page.

"There is predicted rainfall from Thursday onwards - early indications show the possibility of heavy rainfall which may impact on sediment runoff into waterways.

"This situation is being monitored and planned for by council and RFS."

A weather map of Australia showing temperature with rainfall expected on Thursday.
This weather map shows the temperature change from rainfall across the east coast on Thursday. Source: Windy.com

Water NSW said it is preparing to limit potential impacts on the water quality in dam storages caused by ash run off, but the rain forecast this week is not considered intense enough to wash material into catchments.

Chief Executive David Harris said no water quality problem is expected this week, but catchments will need to be managed to protect future water supply.

Several precautionary measures have been taken, including using silt curtains to stop ash being washed into Warragamba Dam by heavy rainfall.

Despite the easing conditions, fire danger ratings were still high for large parts of NSW on Wednesday.

While some areas around Melbourne received heavy rain on Wednesday, including the suburb of St Albans which received 66mm, areas along Victoria’s state border near bushfires received no rain at all and will receive little over the coming days.

Cobram’s forecast for as little as 1mm on Thursday.

Beechworth and Wangaratta should fare better though with totals as high as 8mm and 4mm, respectively, on Thursday.

Farmer Johnnie McKeown stands in the dried-up bed of the Namoi River located on the outskirts of his drought-affected property, near the north-western New South Wales town of Walgett in October.
Farmer Johnnie McKeown at the dried up Namoi River bird on the outskirts of Walgett. Source: Getty Images

With AAP

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