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May rainfall the mirror image of March

Dr. Andrew Watkins, Head of Long-range Forecasts, Bureau of Meteorology

The data is coming in for May, and it's almost a mirror image of the rainfall we had in March.

Whereas March was dry in the south but wetter in the north, the opposite is the case for May. Wettest areas have been in the south. Highest totals were in the southwest of the State, with areas around Hamilton and Mortlake having more than 1.5 times their average rain for May.

But in the north of the State – a vastly different story. Dry conditions extended across the Mallee and into parts of the Wimmera, while parts of the High Country also had low rainfall.

We're being a little careful with numbers from the High Country, as some areas have not reported their rainfall totals yet. This is because people have been working from home and not able to access the more remote gauges. Watch our maps online to see changes as more data arrives.

For Victoria as a whole, May rainfall was around 20% below normal, with most falling in the early parts of the month. The highest daily rainfall was 64.6 mm at Moe South on the 2nd.

If you felt like you needed to rug up this month, the data proves it wasn't just you. Overall, both days and nights were cooler than average.

The average maximum temperature for the State during May was 15.2°C, well below the average May maximum of 16°C. This made it the coldest May since 2011.

May nights typically average 6.5°C over the State but were only 5.7°C in 2020 – the coldest since 2012.

The first week of May was especially cold and wet, with snowfalls down to low levels, though most of that snow melted during the course of the month.

With more rainfall and less evaporation, soil moisture has been recovering well across the State.

By the end of May, central Victoria - including the Goulburn and Murray valley's - and west Gippsland, are showing above average to well above average soil moisture in the top metre, while the Wimmera-Mallee is closer to average. The only part of the State with below average soil moisture is in far east Gippsland.

So, with lots of rain in April, and March and May being almost perfectly opposite, which way is winter likely to go? The latest outlooks suggests June is likely to be drier than average for most of the State, but July could be wetter than average in north-western Victoria.

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