The reports here summarise weather and related events and their media coverage. These are then put in the relevant day's Daily Weather Summary to help make it a complete record of the day's events. AWN Daily Weather Summaries go back to 1996 - use the article index to find them and the year index (top left corner) to change years. The reports are usually written some days after the event to give time for accurate information to become available. If you're looking for weather news as it breaks, there are good suggestions on AWN's Weather and Climate Media Reports page.
|Friday 2 March 2018 Final
Tropical low drowns Townsville before heading west
Thu 1 Mar 2018
Nearly 90 of the Bureau's 100 gauges in the Townsville area scored over 100mm in the 24 hours to 0900 EST Thursday as a tropical low that has been lurking in the area moved to cross the coast. Fifteen of the gauges recorded over 300mm. The low and its spiralling rain bands have been clear on Townsville radar and satellite images, at times looking like a cyclone.
The low has given the area two days of heavy and at times torrential rain. Over the 48 hours ended 0900 on the 1st, Bluewater Flood Alert station, 20km NW of Townsville CBD, recorded 453mm, 124mm of which fell in just two hours to 0600 on the 1st. Other heavy two-day totals were 408mm at Stony Creek Alert and 400 at Saunders Creek Alert, both about 40km W of the city. Deeragun Alert, west of Stony Creek, recorded 103mm in two hours to 0800 on the 1st of which 75mm fell in the first hour. Nelly Bay, on Magnetic Island just east of Townsville, gave the raingauge a workout recording 214mm in six hours to 0900 28th.
Overall, the heaviest rain fell in the 24 hours to 0900 on the 1st, with Townsville Airport recording 139.8mm, its highest one-day total since 174.6mm fell on 13 April 2014. Since that year, Townsville has suffered a lengthy drought, reducing the city's main water supply, Ross River Dam, to less than 15% capacity last week with the city under Level 3 water restrictions. With this rain that figure shot up to nearly 80% and was still rising late on the 1st.
Flash flooding was occurring in Townsville by the evening of the 28th with some residents isolated and sandbagging in progress, according to ABC News. By this time, heavy rainbands associated with lines of converging winds around the low were moving over Townsville as the low crossed the coast moving westwards. Convergence lines like these, where winds from different directions meet and are forced to rise, caused some of the heaviest falls as did the extra uplift provided by the numerous hills and mountains that fringe the city from the NW to the SE through SW.
The Haughton River at Giru SE of Townsville reported a major flood level of 3.20m just before 1830 1st, a little above the record of 3.09m set in February 2011. Moderate to major flooding was also reported in the Bohle and Black Rivers to the W of the city.
By 0500 1st, the low had moved to SE of Georgetown, and continued to drift slowly westward to lie near Cloncurry at 1100 on the 2nd. Rainfall diminished greatly once the low moved away from the coast, and the highest 24 hour totals to 0900 2nd were 81mm at Punchbowl near Julia Creek and 71 at Etta Plains NE of Cloncurry.
[NASA Modis satellite via Severe Weather Chasers, Townsville City Council]
Strong winds cause damage in Melbourne Mon 19 Feb 2018 - Strong winds developed ovenight 19/20 February around Melbourne with the passage of a trough and the development of a strong pressure gradient between a deep low of 999hPa in SW QLD and a high of 1030hPa off southern TAS. This surface map for 1700 EDT 19th shows the situation, with tight isobars through central and southern VIC, further tightened by the passing trough. The winds caused damage to about 30 buildings, brought down about 225 trees, and resulted in 260 calls to emergency services. Although the highest official wind gusts were only 82km/h at Fawkner Beacon in Port Philip Bay and 78km/h at Moorabin Airport, both around 2000 19th, it is likely from damage that higher speeds occurred in some suburbs, especially in the higher eastern ones. [SMH]
Unusual thunderstorm hits Perth, moves into Great Southern
Sun 25 Feb 2018
A thunderstorm with unusual features hit the southern suburbs of Perth and Rockingham late morning before moving into the Great Southern area during the afternoon.
Around Rockingham and southern Perth, it brought heavy hail, torrential rain, local flooding and damage that resulted in 16 emergency service callouts on Sunday morning with dozens more expected. The storm hit Garden Island, NNW of Rockingham, at 1030 WST, with a 130km/h wind gust and 7.4mm of rain in 4 minutes before striking Rockingham where it unroofed and flooded a fish and chip shop. BoM forecaster Adam Conroy told ABC News it was "reasonably unusual in that it formed over water and was very intense and observing wind gusts of 130 kilometres per hour is very strong."
The storm complex, moving ahead of a trough pushing in from the Indian Ocean, passed east into the Great Southern during the afternoon, bringing torrential rain and damaging winds. In Kondinin, 230km ESE of Perth, trees were flattened, power lines and fences down brought down, and the school and six houses lost roofs. Kondinin Volunteer Fire and Emergency Service Captain Roger Northey told ABC News "I was in town at the time, I've never experienced anything that intense in my life...It was just driving that hard, and wind that fast it just kept coming and coming it wouldn't stop." 24.2mm fell in just under an hour at Kondinin Ag Station. Other short torrential falls can be found in the downpours section of the Daily Weather Summary for the day.
Near the small town of Kulin, about 20km to the south, 46mm was recorded and the storm removed the roof off one farmer's shed. He found his patio furniture about 1km away in a neighbour's paddock.
Line of storms produce rain and flash flooding from Toowoomba to Springsure Tue 27 Feb 2018 - Very heavy rain fell in the early hours of 27 February from a slow-moving line of thunderstorms as it moved NW from the Darling Downs to the Central Highlands. In the 24 hours to 0900 27th, Toowoomba Airport recorded 91.6mm, Springsure 97.2 and Roddas Lookout, just SE of Springsure, 151mm. With the rain falling over about two hours in many places, flash flooding resulted.
Heavy snow in China, Japan Tue 6 Feb 2018: China's worst blizzard this winter clogged the world’s largest rail network at the beginning of February in central and southern parts of the country, cutting off critical supplies of thermal coal bound for power stations. The blizzard exposed some major flaws in China's rail and coal policies, wrote Reuters. Meanwhile, a 10km traffic jam occurred in Japan's Fukui prefecture, 300km W of Tokyo, when the heaviest snow in nearly four decades fell on 6 February. Snow was still falling when the depth was measured at 1.36m at 1400 local time. [Reuters]
Dramatic flash flooding in Indonesia leads to deaths Fri 9 Feb 2018: Prolonged heavy rains fell on 5 and 6 February in the mountains south of Jakarta around Bogor, causing landslides, devastating flash flooding (and here) and causing at least four deaths. The floodwaters moved downstream causing flooding in East, South and West Jakarta. The flooding led to the displacement of 6,500 people. Further heavy rain around Banjarnegara in Central Java and South Minahasa in North Sulawesi caused landslides between 8 and 9 February. [ABC News, Reuters, Severe Weather Europe]
Heavy rain and flooding in East Malaysia Mon 12 Feb 2018: From 3 February for about a week, heavy rain in East Malaysia (the part of Malaysia on the northern part of Borneo) had heavy rain and flooding. The heaviest rain was on 5 and 6 February when 100 to 200mm fell on already saturated soil. A gauge just south of Kuching, Sarawak, recorded 197.5mm in 24 hours. Nearly 5,000 people were evacuated across East Malaysia as floodwaters rose, not beginning to subside until 12 February. [Floodlist, Reliefweb]
Third dzud in a row wreaks havoc in Mongolia Fri 15 Feb 2018: For the third year in a row, Mongolia has been hit by a harsh dzud. This phenomenon, unique to Mongolia, is a severe winter in which vast numbers of livestock die because they cannot graze, either because of depth of snow or drought or, as often occurs, both. As nearly half the country's population relies on pastoral farming for its food, transport and income, harsh dzuds cause both economic and food disasters for the country and its people. A dzud in 2010 killed eight million animals, while the first in this series (2015/2016) killed one million. This BBC story gives a good background to that event. Now, in the 2017/2018 winter, about 70% of the country is covered in snow 10 to 45cm deep and night temperatures are dropping to between -30° and -46.5°. Millions of animals, and those that depend on them, are again at risk. This article from the Red Cross gives a background, while this indicates what is being done about it.
Tropical Cyclone Sanba hits southern Philippines Fri 16 Feb 2018: Tropical Cyclone Sanba crossed the northern tip of the Philippines island of Mindanao, 750km SE of the capital Manila, on the afternoon of 12 February local time only two months after Tropical Storm Tembin killed over 200 people on the island. Fourteen people died and 40,000 had to be evacuated in eastern Mindanao and right across the Visayas islands to the north. Although the cyclone was weakening when it hit, it still brought sustained winds of 65km/h, heavy rain and flooding. Over 50 houses are known to be destroyed and at least another 300 damaged. This ECHO map gives an overview (click map to enlarge it), the Floodlist report gives updated details and an Al Jazeera report, written as the cyclone approached, gives an introduction.
|Monday 26 February 2018 Final
Dust storm hits Charleville Tue 20 Feb 2018 - As the cool change that brought widespread thunderstorms to QLD arrived in the dry, dusty southwest of the state, it swept up a massive dust storm along its leading edge. This hit a broad area centred on Charleville early afternoon 20 February as part of a dry thunderstorm. Wind peaked at 96km/h at the Airport. It caused some damage, with Police Inspector Grant Marcus telling ABC News the town was damaged, with parts of roofs ripped off and signs torn down. "So far I haven't spoken to anyone who's seen anything as unusual or significant as this in the way of dust storms. It's not unusual to get them out here, you do get them occasionally but it's quite a significant one and it's been lasting for a considerable amount of time," he said.
Higgins Storm Chasing contributions showed how impressive the storm looked as it approached Cooladdi, 80km WSW of Charleville and from a car driving into it near Charleville, while this was the scene in the town itself. [Also see the Guardian and 7 News.]
Heavy rain brings flooding to SE QLD Sat 24 Feb 2018 - An upper low/trough system over inland QLD together with a surface trough down the coast swung a very moist, unstable airstream into SE QLD from 21 to 24 February bringing general falls of 100 to 200mm to the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane area and Gold Coast. The heaviest 4-day total on the Sunshine Coast was 354mm at Nambour, in the Brisbane area 256 at Kenmore Hills and on the Gold Coast 317 at Upper Springbrook. The wettest rainfall day was the 24 hours to 0900 EST on the 24th when rain had contracted south into the Brisbane and Gold Coast areas. 135.8mm fell in the Brisbane City gauge during this rainfall day, just over its average for the whole month of February of 135.5.
Minor river flooding on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts and hinterlands became widespread by late on the 23rd with moderate and occasionally major flood levels achieved on some streams. Flash flooding was widespread, leading to numerous rescues [ABC News].
Just how deadly are roads covered by floodwater?
Sat 24 Feb 2018
Here's a video that really emphasises the slogan that "If it's flooded, forget it" - even if you're not in a car.
You never know what's underneath. It could be a pothole that stalls you, or a washaway deep enough to swallow a car. Cars are also super-efficient at floating, and a small or modified larger one may float in as little as 15cm of water, the length of a ball-point pen. After contact is lost with the road, or even partly lost, the water will simply take them where it wants to.
As a result, QLD rescue services had to rescue eight people in a not-uncommon flash flooding situation during this week's heavy rain. Today, 24 February, this driver came to grief over the border in NSW, and as Rick Watt showed in the comments, just being in a large truck doesn't help if there's a 3m deep washaway.
What prompts people to do something as stupid as this? An increasing amount of research is going into the driving behaviour that causes bad or fatal flood driving decisions and how the consequences of them can be mitigated. This study, reported in The Conversation last December, looked at the mitigation aspect by identifying what makes some stretches of road more dangerous than others. Some of the links in the article are worth reading, too.
[Queensland Police, ABC News, ABC North Coast, Severe Weather Europe]
|Sunday 25 February 2018 Final
Stormy times in QLD
Tue 20 Feb 2018
For over a week, thunderstorms, often severe, have been part of life in much of coastal QLD and nearby areas. These have brought large hail, such as these 4 to 8cm monsters south of Ipswich on 15 February [Katja Lindemann via Anthony Cornelius], damaging wind gusts, such as 113km/h at Blackwater (17th) and 115km/h at Cloncurry (19th), and frequent and spectacular lightning shows (15th)[Higgins Storm Chasing]. Slow-moving storms have resulted in very heavy rainfall, such as 49mm in 30 minutes at Tenthill, near Laidley, (19th).
The stormy weather came to a head on 20 February. An upper low west of Rockhampton provided instability over much of the state while drawing in warm very humid air. At the same time, much cooler air moving up from the south began to undercut this, adding further rain and storm-producing uplift. Storms ahead of this change developed during the afternoon, moving through central areas and climaxing on the Central Highlands where ABC News reported wind gusts to 104km/h at Moranbah, 150km SW of Mackay, caused major damage. ABC News also reported that storms elsewhere dropped 8cm hail at Clermont, ripped part of the roof off Mt Isa Hospital, and blacked out 30,000 properties in an area from Moranbah to Gordonvale, 20km S of Cairns, and west to Hughenden.
Townsville suffered both an early morning storm and another one late evening. These brought down powerlines and some very large trees [Oz Cyclone Chasers] and gave torrential rain near the city, with 87mm over two hours at Giru and 72 in one hour at Toolakea.
The general track of rain-producing storms can be seen in the 24-hour BoM rainfall map to 0900 EST on 21 February. Many stations from the Maranoa through the Central Highlands and Central Coast to the Townsville area recorded between 50 and 100mm with a few exceeding 100mm. The most noteworthy by far was 159.8mm at Injune Post Office in the Maranoa, its wettest February day in 93 years of records and nearly 50% above its previous record of 107.7 set in 1937. Farther east, Brovinia, SW of Gayndah, recorded 81mm in just one hour to 1000 EST. Also of note was the dramatic temperature drop in southern QLD. Roma recorded 39.7° on the 19th but during daylight hours on the 20th, the mercury failed to get out of the teens thanks to cloud, chilly air outflow under thunderstorms and the passage of the cooler trough.
|Saturday 24 February 2018 Final
An extraordinary end to Tropical Cyclone Kelvin
Thurs 22 Feb 2018
Tropical Cyclone Kelvin (see AWN earlier) backtracked eastwards then was upgraded to Category 2 level as it crossed the WA coast at Anna Plains Station, 160km SW of Broome, at 07.00 WST 18 February with wind gusts to 150km/h. Good reports on the event are on the Guardian, Reuters, Al Jazeera and ABC News.
A most unusual feature of the cyclone was that it strengthened for several hours after crossing the coast; most cyclones weaken almost immediately as their source of energy, drawn from warm ocean water beneath, is cut off and roughness from the land surface distorts the cyclone's circulation. Kelvin's eye even became more organised as it headed SSE into the Australian interior, and it was still a Category 1 cyclone as it passed Punmu, nearly 400km inland, over 24 hours later [Andrew Miskelly]. It is also unusual for a weaker cyclone to retain its strength like this for so long after landfall. Jeff Masters in his blog - scroll down to the radar images here - commented at length on these features and their possible causes. The BoM also speculated to ABC News that the great inland sea of warm, brown water that has cut the area's main Great Northern Highway could have acted as an extension of the warm sea water, sustaining Kelvin after it left the Indian Ocean while wetted desert sands may have maintained it farther inland creating a type of "landphoon" [see Savanna Explorer, Le Coin Météo†].
On 19 February, the BoM posted a remarkable list of records set at Broome. The town has had its wettest year in observations going back to 1889 - and it is only February! It has had its wettest month of January and wettest February day on record, as well as its second wettest January day and second wettest month of February which may yet be eclipsed by the time February ends. ABC News ran this retrospective of the rain in Broome on 20 February. It also ran follow-up stories on the flooding and its effects, with some good photos, on 18, 19 and 21 February.
Even after Kelvin passed into its extra-tropical phase, moving down the eastern side of WA, across the Nullarbor Plain, and out into the Great Australian Bight on 22 February, it retained its active circulation. On the Nullarbor, it gave Eucla 79.2mm in the 24 hours to 0900 WST 22 February, its highest daily total since 16 February 1960 and nine times the station's median rainfall for the whole month.
Details of the history of Kelvin are published in the BoM's Cyclone Report, and Floodlist posted this flood report.
|Thursday 22 February 2018 Final
Snow, floods make for miserable winter in France
Sun 11 Feb 2018
France's weather has been bleaker, warmer, wetter and considerably snowier than usual this winter. Météo France reported† that the national average temperature for January was over 3° above average, the highest on record for the month, while for all except the far south and west of the country there were record, or close-to-record, low amounts of sunshine.
A procession of active fronts and storms moving across France has kept cloud and rainfall amounts high, but while that's brought flooding to lower areas, in the mountains it has meant very deep snow, though as this Météo France post explained† it's not quite that simple. Météo France also gave a good summary† of the meteorology behind the unusual winter.
While at lower levels, including on the Seine and in Paris, there has been widespread flooding, the rain that brought the flooding has fallen as snow higher up. In most of France's mountain areas, the snow now extends down to 400-900m while above 1,500m snow depths have been measured between 1.5 and 4.3m. However, different weather patterns in each area have resulted in considerable variations, as Météo France reported† on 16 February. Some depths have been close to the greatest on record. Heavy snow - and avalanche - problems continued, like this on 20 February in the Pyrénées† [La Dépêche]. You'll find some spectacular photos of the Pyrénées currently on the Météo Pyrénées Twitter site†.
On 5-7 February, heavy lowland snow fell in an area from the Loire Valley through Paris to the Aisne, NE of the capital as shown on Météo France radar†. Parisians would have been well prepared, having seen Météo France warnings like this†, carried on Actu.fr. Fifteen centimetres of snow lay on the ground at Orly Airport at 06.00 on 7 February, a depth only reached every 20 to 25 years, while 12cm was measured near central Paris at Montsouris, about a 1 in 10 year occurrence. Snow depths reportedly reached 20cm in some suburbs, and Charles de Gaulle Airport looked like this. [SWE]
Traffic was chaotic around and especially to the south of the city, with a record 740km of traffic jams on the night of 6 February. About 2,000 people were stranded in deep snow on the N118 south of Paris and had to be rescued. On the A1 Autoroute to the north, France's busiest autoroute, a 30km line of trucks were immobilised in the two left lanes heading towards Paris. Some rail and tram lines shut down and almost all bus services stopped, resulting in Montparnasse and Austerlitz railway stations and 46 other shelters being opened to stranded people. [Guardian, SWE, ABC News, Reuters]
Frigid conditions set in after the snow. Overnight 7/8 February, Orgerus, 50km W of Paris, recorded a minimum temperature of -13.7° while many other centres fell below -10°. The following night was even colder, the coldest in France so far this winter, with Paris recording -4°. Then snow once again moved in on 9 February with between 3 and 7cm new snow across the central northern half of France, including Paris.
It took until 11 February to clear streets of snow and ice, and restore normality to Paris. During the snow, the Eiffel Tower was closed, many Parisians enjoyed skiing the streets and photographers found a new beauty in a quiet city. [Jaakko Nuutinen]