1692949
1692949 Inga Williams

Dedicated rain watchers gauge our weather for 10 years

WHEN the Queensland Times put the call out for rain watchers about 10 years ago, perhaps we didn't quite realise just how seriously some people take their weather.

What we ended up with was just over a dozen proud residents of towns and suburbs covering a huge area - from the Scenic Rim, Lockyer and Brisbane Valleys, right into Ipswich's inner suburbs.

Their names, addresses and phone numbers have remained safely contained in our files for the last decade, and when the Bureau of Meteorology's figures won't cut the mustard, the QT knows it has some reliable folk on the ground to provide some solid precipitation data.

Brassall grandfather Gordon Woods has been keeping a diary of every shower since he took on the job 10 years ago.

As a result, he is now the go-to man at Brassall Shopping Centre if you want to know how much rain the area got the night before.

"I check the gauge every time there's rain," Mr Woods said.

"Even if it rains at night I will be up with a torch to check on it."

After years of observation, Mr Woods believes the climate is slowly getting drier - but not everyone agrees with him.

After an extended dry period from about 2006 to 2008, the rain watchers have been kept fairly busy, with minor floods in 2008, 2009 and major events in 2011 and 2013.

With talk of another El Nino setting in, this season looked like it would be a quiet one - at least until the end of October.

As reported yesterday, parts of the Fassifern Valley recorded 200mm of rain over a two-week period, with Ipswich's suburbs not too far behind.

EYES ON THE SKY: Ipswich weather watchers John Toohill (left), and Gordon Woods keep QT readers closely informed on rain patterns.
EYES ON THE SKY: Ipswich weather watchers John Toohill (left), and Gordon Woods keep QT readers closely informed on rain patterns. Inga Williams

For suburban vege patch gardners like Eastern Heights rain watcher John Toohill, 60mm of rain over the last week meant a welcome boost for his beetroots, spuds, tomatoes and silverbeet, and a top-up for his water tanks.

Unlike Mr Woods, he believes south-east Queensland's summers of extreme wet weather aren't over just yet.

"I still think we'll have another flood of some description," he said.

"Maybe it won't be this summer, but soon."

Mr Toohill's obsession with following the rain comes mostly from having a dad who grew up on a farm, where predicting the weather could be as sophisticated as watching the behaviour of the cows.

The Ipswich dad also watches ants when he's looking for a sign of what's to come.

"There has been a very big increase in ants - it is amazing how animals can tell you what's going to happen.

"When the ants are going up high I believe that's a sign.

"Farmers look at the way cattle behave - some of the old-timers will say that there's rain coming, just by looking at the cows."



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