STAWELL - The prolonged dry spell continued to take its toll on Stawell's annual yearly rainfall, which was below average for the first time in four years.
The annual rainfall figure wasn't sitting just below the average either, most months took a big hit due to the dry spell, leaving the overall figure at just 68% of the average.
Stawell's average yearly rainfall is 532 millimetres (2127 points) and only 366.4mm (1466pts) was recorded throughout 2012.
Above average rainfall was recorded on only two months of the year, while a third equalled the average. With most other months well below the average, the total figure was always going to be down.
Rain totals in 2011 were boosted by a wet start and wet end to the year, with 172.4mm recorded in January and a further 100.8mm in December. These downpours were the cause of the widespread flooding events and subsequent damage in areas around Stawell and the Grampians.
In contrast, January last year saw just 18.6mm (75pts) recorded. This was down compared with the monthly average for January of 21.5mm.
The trend continued into February, with 24.6mm being recorded, ensuring a poor start to the year. To the end of February 2011, the rainfall total had reached 233.6mm (935pts) and last year it was a mere 43.2mm.
The average monthly rainfall for March is 30.5mm and this was exceeded last year, one of only two months to achieve this. The March rainfall reached a total of 43.8mm (176pts), the majority of which fell in the first four days of the month.
Farmers were looking for a bit of a break in the weather in April and May, but it didn't come.
April's rainfall total reached just 15.6mm against an average of 36mm and the May rainfall was a disappointing 23.8mm, less than half the monthly average which is 55mm (220pts).
Patchy rain was recorded throughout the start of June, but in nine days of rain being recorded, the total had reached just 13mm and this was beyond the middle of the month. A break finally came on June 21 when 14.4mm was recorded and this was followed the next day by a fall of 19.6mm. All of a sudden, June's rainfall was looking healthy.
The rain dropped off towards the end of the month and in the end, June's total reached 50.6mm, but this was well below the average of 69mm.
It wasn't the ideal start to winter, but with rain recorded on 21 days, the figure for July reached a healthy 53.4mm, which was close to the monthly average.
August's rainfall rounded out a solid winter period, with 61.2mm being recorded for the month. This was above the monthly average for August of 58mm and managed to bring the total winter rainfall to 165.2mm (661pts).
September was dry in 2011 and this trend continued last year with 31mm being recorded for the month. Rain only fell on 11 days and the bulk of the rainfall was in the final two days.
A dry October was set to cause concern across the region, as lakes needed replenishing and farmers were already looking ahead to below average harvests.
With only 15.2mm (60.8pts) recorded for the month compared to the average of 51mm, many farmers started to contemplate a poor harvest ahead in December and January.
Relying on some solid rains throughout November and December, the farmers were let down yet again, only 10.4mm being recorded in November and 18.2mm falling in December.
Those two months the previous year had produced rainfall totalling 151.4mm, while the average for the combined months is 73mm.
With the total for the year reaching just 366.4mm (1466pts), it is the lowest rainfall since 2006. Prior to that the lowest rainfall recorded was 331.3mm in 1994.