‘It just kept coming’: Wheatbelt gets first significant rain of 2022 with up to 86mm over the weekend

Headshot of Shannon Verhagen
Much of the grainbelt got a drenching over the weekend as several storm cells brought up to 86mm in some areas.
Camera IconMuch of the grainbelt got a drenching over the weekend as several storm cells brought up to 86mm in some areas. Credit: Supplied

Farmers are rejoicing after the first significant rainfall in months fell at the weekend, with back-to-back storm cells delivering a deluge of up to 86mm on some farms.

After a hot and dusty summer, the long anticipated falls fell across Friday to Sunday, with dark, ominous clouds bringing not only thunder and lightning, but double digit rainfall into the gauges.

According to the Bureau of Meterology, growers in Kalannie (78.8mm), Burakin (75.6mm), Koorda (75.4mm), and Trayning (65.2mm) got the biggest soak, with even higher numbers reported on private rain gauges.

Other areas to get a decent drink were Bindoon (55.4mm), Bencubbin (54.6mm), Perenjori (48.8mm), Kellerberrin (39.2mm), Canna East (36.2mm) and Allanooka (36mm), while several other communities recorded between 10-30mm.

Some farmers in Kalannie and South Yelbeni reported hail, with one calling the icy stones “the biggest I’ve ever seen”.

Kalannie mixed farmers Ricki and Todd Fulwood recorded one of the biggest numbers in the State over the weekend, with 25-86mm falling across their farms north and east of town.

Mrs Fulwood said it started slow, but then came in a hurry.

“It was actually really weird,” she said. “It rained a tiny bit Friday night and we woke up and the boys went ‘oh we only got 0.2mm.’ We were expecting 10mm.

“Then we woke up on Saturday and it was super-humid and there were so many flies.

“About 2-3pm we had one shower and it was just so much rain, we probably had 12mm in 10 minutes.”

Then it stopped, she said, before the next downpour came along about an hour later.

“It just kept coming — it was crazy,” she said.

On Sunday they woke up to another 10-15mm in the gauge, bringing their total to 86mm for just over 24 hours.

With the storms having subsided, they took their girls Elsie, 5, and Lucy, 3, out to splash in the puddles.

Mr Fulwood said the rain would enable them to work some dirt and hopefully set them up some moisture for seeding lupins later in a few weeks time.

“There were a couple of paddocks we had deep ripped last year and we checked them Sunday where we got about 50mm and they was wet the whole way through, so that’s promising,” Mrs Fulwood said.

“Everything needed a drink.”

North Doodlakine grain and sheep grower Caleb Levy said the rain fell within seven-hour period at his farm, with 45.5mm recorded between 4pm and 11pm on Saturday.

“It looked like it was just thunder and lightning, then all of a sudden the rain came in a huge blow and it was just blowing sideways,” he said.

“I haven’t seen rain like that for a while — in about 15 minutes about 20mm came down.”

He said it stopped for a couple of hours, before kicking back in at 7pm and “didn’t let up” until 11pm.

With the rain came hail for South Yelbeni grower Ruth Parkhouse, who said the 40-49mm they got across their property came down in torrents.

Accompanied by wind and hail, there will be some clean up, including fixing panels on a shed roof which buckled in the storm, but she said it was fixable.

“Lots of branches and a couple of trees down,” Mrs Parkhouse said. “The wind, rain was torrential... it even managed to shift a little silo a little bit.”

Mr Levy said the rain would set them up for spraying, with melons and prickly pear starting to rear their heads.

He said a neighbour to the south had decided to start sowing canola already.

Mr Levy said he would wait until April to start seeding, but would be putting in some more lupins and canola into their rotation, with the pre-season rain hopefully allowing the roots to get down and the soil to open up.

With more rain forecast for the week, Mr Levy said it may reduce the amount of on-farm water carting they had been doing to keep their 4500 Merinos watered, and hopefully meant they could move them back into smaller paddocks.

“We’ve been carting water since Christmas, it wasn’t urgent, but you just don’t want the livestock getting stuck in the mud at the bottom of the dams,” he said.

Off the back of a good 2021 season, Mr Levy said he was “very happy so far” but had his fingers crossed for another 40mm.

WA Rainfall Totals March 25-28

Allanooka: 36mm

Badgingarra: 25.2mm

Beacon: 31.8mm

Bencubbin: 54.6mm

Bindoon: 55.4mm

Burakin: 75.6mm

Canna East: 36.2mm

Carnamah East: 35.2mm

Corrigin: 15.6mm

Corrigin East: 25.4mm

Darkan: 20mm

Denmark: 21.4mm

Kalannie: 8.8mm

Karridale: 26.4mm

Kellerberrin: 39.2mm

Kendenup: 22.6mm

Koorda: 75.4mm

Kulin: 17.4mm

Kweda: 17.8mm

Lake King: 20mm

Logue Brook: 20mm

Manypeaks: 26.4mm

Margaret River: 36.8mm

McAlinden: 17.6mm

Milyeannup: 42.8mm

Moorine Rock: 26.8mm

Pemberton: 27.8mm

Perenjori: 48.8mm

Ravensthorpe: 19.6mm

Stirlings South: 26.6mm

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