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Time site last updated: UTC:01:25

Tuesday 22/5/2018, 1800 EST: I am close to being able to cut in the new processing computer, after which the site will return to automatic operation. Once it is cut in, the delays you may have experienced in data and OCF forecast availability should be gone.
With this lengthy background work finished, I'm also looking forward to writing up weather events again.
Latest weather extremes prepared 1125 EST, Thursday, 24 May 2018
State-by-state daily extremes Severe and noteworthy observations today
Hottest Coldest Wettest     Full list Windiest (km/h)     Full list
SA: 17.4 at 1030 MOOMBA AIRPORT
WA: 29.5 at 0900 KALUMBURU
QLD: 32.3 at 1100 COCONUT ISLAND
NSW: 8.1 at 1100 THREDBO AWS
VIC: 2.6 at 1100 MOUNT BAW BAW
SA: 8.5 at 1030 MOUNT LOFTY
WA: 11.1 at 0900 COLLIE EAST
QLD: 16.8 at 1100 APPLETHORPE
Highest short duration falls:
2.2 in 14min to 1100
0.2 in 6min to 1106
Highest since 9am
2.6 to 1100
1.6 to 1106
29 gusting 66/WSW at 1100
46 gusting 63/WSW at 1100
46 gusting 57/WSW at 1100
50 gusting 57/WSW at 1100

Weather, climate
and site news

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 time after the event to allow reliable and detailed 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.

Monday 14 May 2018 Final

 VIC, NSW: Cold outbreak brings low-level snow
Fri 11 May 2018

A sub-polar outbreak brought a sudden change to winter across VIC and NSW from Thursday 10th to Friday 11th May. A loop in the upper air flow produced a cut-off system that moved northwards into VIC and southern NSW dragging what for May are exceptionally low temperatures of around -3 at 1.3km and -32 at 5.5km in a line from western VIC to the NSW Central Tablelands.

This one-week animation of Himawari-8 satellite water vapour images shows the whole event [Andrew Miskelly]. Watch on Wednesday 9th and Thursday 10th as the large area of white (cold) and blue (colder) cloud SW of TAS is cut off from the main westerly flow, then shoots due north up the West Coast of TAS into VIC and southern NSW. By Saturday 11th it has moved out into the Tasman, poised to bring heavy rain to New Zealand later in the week.

In VIC, Ballarat reported a temperature on Thursday of only 2.8° around midday, while Gordon, 20km to the E and at 600m above sea level, was reporting snow. Good amounts of settled snow fell in Omeo (700m) while in NE VIC, social media showed snow falling at Mount Beauty (400m). The cold front began moving through the Southern and Central Tablelands of NSW early Thursday afternoon, dropping temperatures sharply. Around 13.00 it was 25° in Sydney but only 8° in Canberra. Snow began falling on the higher parts of the Southern and Central Tablelands in the early hours of Friday 11th, and worked down to about the 900m level by dawn with snow reported at Crookwell, Lithgow, Oberon and Orange. Settled snow, however, was mostly restricted to areas above about 1,000m and snow depths were mostly less than 5cm.

Skiing resorts in both states reported falls of 10 to 40cm, much of which had melted by Monday 14th. Unfortunately, while the system brought 25 to 40mm of rain or snow to western parts of the NSW Central Tablelands, it brought little to parched remaining areas inland of the Divide in NSW or in NW VIC.

While snow like this is not uncommon in May, the very strong winds blowing up the western side of the cut-off low were, setting many records in both states on Friday 11th, Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th. Several low day-time maximum temperature records were broken, too, and Melbourne's top of 12.8° was its coldest this early in the year since 6 May 1970. Some wild weather and flooding was also reported in the city [Fairfax]. At least the strong wind cleared away the hazard-reduction burn smoke that has been lingering across NSW for many days, like this on Mt Solitary in the Blue Mountains [Fairfax; David Brown, 7].

See also: ABC, SMH, Southern Highland News

Monday 29 April 2018 Final

International New Zealand: Gales and flooding rain hit the North Island Sun 29 Apr 2018: A multi-centred low pressure system just west of NZ's North Island swung a mass of unstable moist air into the eastern and central North Island from late Saturday into Sunday, producing some record rain and accompanied by gale-force wind gusts. NZ is just visible as a green outline under the boiling mass of cloud in this NIWA/Himarari animation.

Rotorua had its wettest hour since records began 54 years ago when 51.8mm fell between 1000 and 1100 today, with a total of 167.8mm between 0400 Saturday and 1800 today giving the city nearly 1½ times its April monthly average in 38 hours. A state of emergency was declared to allow evacuations to proceed in the Ngongotaha area in Rotorua's north. In Auckland, galeforce winds coming from the opposite direction to the devastating 10 April storm brought down power lines and weakened trees, cutting power to 2,000 residences and leading to at least 50 emergency callouts.

International Rwanda: 75 or more lose lives in rain and storms Fri 27 Apr 2018: Updated figures say at least 24 people have died in floods or landslides brought on by heavy rain in the last few days according to the Rwanda Meteorology Agency and local media. It has been an unhappy start to the year for the tiny central-eastern African country, with Rwanda's ministry in charge of disaster management saying that 51 people had already died from heavy rains and lightning between January and mid-April. [Reuters, Floodlist]

Saturday 31 March 2018 Final

 Yet more rain threatened as QLD Tropical North Coast drenched again
Fri 30 Mar 2018

Just over two weeks after days of rain produced the worst flooding in years in some rivers from Ingham to Cairns, and especially around Ingham, further heavy rain in the same area over the past week has again caused moderate to major flooding. This time the worst flooding was around Cairns after 100 to 200mm of rain fell in part of the saturated Barron River catchment in only two hours late on Monday 26th.

Minor flooding began in the Barron and Mulgrave-Russell systems around Cairns as early as Sunday 25th with rapid rises at upstream gauges. For example the Barron River at Mareeba rose by 7.34m to 10.30m in the six hours to 0130 Tuesday 27th while its tributary Clohesy River rose 10.35m in under eight hours to be 5¾m above major flood level. These rapid rises upstream of Cairns coincided with a period of intense heavy rain: in the two hours to 2300 26th Copperlode Dam recorded 189mm, Flaggy Creek 135 and Myola 124 while in one hour to 2200 26th Mona Mona recorded 87mm. All except Copperlode Dam are on the Barron above Barron Falls which was an awe-inspiring sight when dawn broke. [ABC News] However, the Copperlode downpour flowed down Freshwater Creek to join the Barron above Cairns, adding to the torrent of water that arrived in Cairns before dawn on Tuesday 27th

The resulting river and flash flooding was the worst in the city since February 2000. As reported on 26 March, extreme flash flooding extended north of Cairns to Port Douglas and into the Daintree. In Cairns itself:

  • Caravan parks in Brinsmead and Redlynch had to be evacuated when they were inundated in darkness, with cars and caravans floating about, people screaming for help and rescues made from campervans and caravans afloat. Water subsided quickly, but many people lost property in caravans.
  • The Bruce Highway was closed in several places and Captain Cook Highway to the north closed. Cairns residents were asked to stay home, and four high schools were closed.
  • The QLD Fire and Emergency Services reported dozens of swift-water rescues on Tuesday 27th. One man was rescued after clinging to a tree at Yorkey's Knob, north of the city.
  • Residents and organisations gave first-hand accounts in this ABC News story.

Elsewhere on the North Tropical Coast:

  • Douglas Shire ran critically short of drinking water, with only five hours supply left at one point.
  • Tully, Halifax, Cordelia, Taylors Beach and Lucinda were isolated, with three Tully schools closed.
  • In addition to many closures north of Ingham, the Bruce Highway was closed at Cattle Creek between Townsville and Ingham, lining up traffic for kilometres.

[ABC News, AAP/SMH, Floodlist]

The flooding this time around was caused by the nearly stationary monsoon trough lying from the southern Gulf of Carpentaria to the Coral Sea. Embedded in the trough, the decaying Ex-Tropical Cyclone Nora intensified rainfall for a while when it moved overland closer to the Tropical North Coast before moving back to the SE Gulf.

Also lying menacingly in the trough, out in the Coral Sea between the QLD coast and New Caledonia, the short-lived TC Iris refuses to go away with current guidance indicating it will bring rain to the QLD Capricorn and/or Tropical North Coasts from late on the Easter weekend. [Andrew Miskelly, BoM, JMA] There is still uncertainty as to what effect ex-TC Iris will have, but as of Friday evening 30th there are flood watches in place for coastal rivers from the Russell-Mulgrave system just south of Cairns to the Kolan River north of Bundaberg. The effects of Iris were already being felt on Friday 30th, with many Sunshine and Gold Coast beaches closed by by dangerous surf and strong currents. Despite warnings, 50 people had to be rescued. ABC News reported that conditions were so bad on some Sunshine Coast beaches that lifeguards could not get onto them because beachfronts had been washed away.

The BoM weekly rain map to 0900 29th shows over 400mm falling along the coastal strip from Ingham to the Daintree, where a number of places have now had two to three times their average March rain. A second large area over 400mm E of Normanton was directly due to the slow-moving ex-TC Nora as it moved east, then west, across the base of Cape York Peninsula. Rain there was particularly intense in the 24 hours to 0900 Tuesday 27th in the Georgetown/Mount Surprise area. Georgetown recorded 189mm, Mount Surprise (90km to the E) 205, Green Hills (30km WSW) 222 and Abingdon Downs (60km NW) a whopping 405mm. It was Abingdon Downs' highest one-day total since records began in 1945, beating the previous record of 263mm, also in a March in 2016.

During the week to the 29th, the average of all raingauges across all coastal river systems from the Herbert north to the Daintree River was 390mm. Averages in individual catchments were: Herbert (which includes the town of Ingham) 260mm, Tully 440, Johnstone (Innisfail) 510, Russell-Mulgrave (Babinda and Gordonvale) 440, Barron (Cairns) 360, and Daintree-Endeavour (Port Douglas, Mossman and Daintree Village) 465. The highest 7-day total was 1051mm at Bulgan Creek, 7km N of Tully, a quarter of which (252mm) fell in just three hours to 2300 Monday 26th with the hour to 2300 producing 100mm. The highest one-day fall was 593mm at the Port Douglas Warner Street gauge for the 24 hours to 0900 on the Monday 26th, its highest daily total for March since records began in 1887.

Overall, the heaviest rain was from the 25th to the 27th with most rivers at moderate or major flood levels at some of their gauging points by the morning of the 27th. Except in the north, flood peaks were lower than two weeks ago with the Herbert at Ingham Pump Station reaching just under the 12m major level and the Murray at Murray Flats just above the 8m major level, both on Wednesday evening 28th. The Tully at Euramo sat close to its peak of 8.7m (major level 9.0m) from midday Tuesday 27th to late Wednesday 28th while the Johnstone River only saw minor to moderate flooding at a few gauges on Tuesday 27th. Moderate flood levels were also reached in the Mulgrave-Russell and Daintree systems.

Australia Don't believe everything you read Fri 30 Mar 2018 - With few exceptions, it pays to be sceptical when reading, listening to or watching media reports of weather events. The Border Mail and The Maitland Mercury, both Fairfax Media country media outlets, reported that "The rain reached emergency levels on Monday when 100mm was said to fall in one minute". While I don't expect journalists pressed for time to comb through the technical data on the BoM Hydro web pages, the Bureau's tweet at the time clearly said "mm/hr". Common sense could also have suggested the figure looked wrong.

For the record, the heaviest 1-minute rainfall ever recorded in the world, as verified by the World Meteorological Organisation, was 31.2mm on 4 July 1956 at Unionville, Maryland, USA. A well-referenced Wikipedia article gives 38mm in one minute at Barot, Guadeloupe, in the Caribbean, on 26 November 1970, with this research document as its basis. It's a pdf in French, so unfortunately no cheating using your browser to translate. If you're interested in weather extremes, visit the WMO Global Weather and Climate Extremes page, the very good Wikipedia List of weather records, and from the BoM these lists of rainfall extremes for the world (now a little dated) and Australia.

Monday 26 March 2018 Final

 Nora downgraded as the cost is counted
Mon 26 Mar 2018

Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Nora lost strength rapidly after crossing the coast NNW of Pormpuraaw, on the western side of Cape York Peninsula, just before midnight on Saturday 24th. It had been downgraded to a tropical low less than a day later, on Sunday afternoon, after tracking down the coast and close to the communities of Pormpuraaw and Kowanyama. By this afternoon, 26th, it was stationary over land near Karumba in the SE corner of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Late yesterday, 25th, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katarina Carroll told ABC News that emergency services had begun damage assessments. "There is certainly power outages, powerlines down and a lot of vegetation on the ground in Pormpuraaw, less so definitely in Kowanyama," she said. A local said that conditions were worst in Pormpuraaw around midnight. Power was lost to all 230 properties in Pormpuraaw with significant damage to equipment, with crews arriving there and in Kowanyama this afternoon, 26th, to begin repairs according to Ergon Energy after being delayed by weather and the need to make airstrips safe. Roads are impassable.

Fairfax Media reported that initial assessments in Kowanyama amounted to minor damage to five properties and five infrastructure items. By the time Nora passed about 50km SW of the town, it had been downgraded to Category 2. No deaths or injuries were reported in either community, a fact attributed to them being well prepared. The automatic weather station at the airport showed the pressure dropping rapidly to 985hPa at 0330 on 25th, bottoming at 983.4 at 0450 and then rising rapidly. Top wind gust was 100km/h at 0354 with frequent sustained winds (10-minute average) of 50 to 70km/h between 0052 and 0450. The airport recorded 128.2mm of rain in the 24 hours to 0900 25th, but 96.6mm of that fell between 0000 and 0300.

With Nora becoming a near-stationary tropical depression in the SE corner of the Gulf, very heavy rain moved inland. Normanton recorded 147mm in the 24 hours to 0900 today 26th, but falls to the NE and SE of the town were much higher. They included Croydon 233, Upper Walker Creek 321 and Miranda Downs Station 371.0mm, its heaviest one-day total in 115 years of observations, soundly thrashing its previous record of 232.4mm set back in February 1942. Other new records are here.

 Over half a metre of rain brings flooding to QLD North Tropical Coast
Mon 26 Mar 2018

Heavy rain has also been plaguing the Tropical North QLD Coast since 21 March. The monsoon trough in which Nora has been embedded extends east across Cape York Peninsula into the Coral Sea and has been aiming moist, unstable winds onto the coast. Top falls yesterday were 185mm at Bucklands (S of Babinda) and Daintree Village while Innisfail saw 160mm, with some roads around the town and also Ingham cut. All this is falling on ground thoroughly saturated by notable flooding two weeks ago.

The rain became more serious yesterday and today with very heavy falls from around Babinda north to Cairns and into the Daintree. Port Douglas recorded a staggering 593.0mm in the 24 hours to 0900, its highest March total in over 120 years. The previous March record was 446.2mm on 5 March 2008. Black Mountain, about halfway between Port Douglas and Cairns, recorded 457 and Kuranda Railway Station 403mm. As this video by Joseph Dietz via FNQ Floodwatch & Road Conditions shows, flash flooding on the Captain Cook Highway between Cairns and Port Douglas were extreme before the road was closed by rockslides and fallen trees. The Kennedy Highway onto Kuranda Range was closed by a rockslide.

Cairns itself recorded 218mm at the airport, 114.4 of which fell in 2½ hours from 1300 on Sunday 25th. This downpour caused flooding in low-lying parts of the city, including leaving cars in a shopping centre carpark in Earlville, a southwestern suburb, bobbing about in the water. Shoppers at Rusty's Markets in Cairns CBD waded in ankle-deep water to make their purchases. The State Emergency Service received over 100 callouts in Cairns and Port Douglas. [ABC News, AAP via Guardian]

Saturday 24 March 2018 Final

Australia Nora batters Cape York Peninsula, Marcus dies, Iris is born
Sat 24 Mar 2018

A rare situation on the BoM Current Tropical Cyclones page at 1626 WST (1826 EST) with three cyclones in Australian waters simultaneously. The situation didn't last long. BoM.

For a few hours today there were three Tropical Cyclones present on the Bureau's Tropical Cyclone map.

By far the most serious is TC Nora which is now at severe Category 3 on the Australian scale. The Tropical Cyclone Advice issued by the BoM at 2325 EST said that at 2200 Nora was crossing the coast at a tangent about 50km NNW of Pormpuraaw. It was moving SSE at 20km/h with estimated sustained winds near the centre of 120km/h, gusting to 165km/h, and a central pressure of 976hPa.

The Bureau said in the Advice "As the system is moving somewhat parallel to the coast, the period of crossing will be extended, and the cyclone is only expected to weaken slowly and may still be a Category 2 or Category 3 system as it approaches Kowanyama on sunday morning.

"From later Sunday, the Tropical Cyclone is expected to continue gradually weakening as it becomes slow moving over land near the southwestern base of Cape York Peninsula.

"The system may move back over water in the southeastern Gulf of Carpentaria late Monday or on Tuesday, where it may reintensify briefly to a Category 1 cyclone."

Meantime, TC Marcus off WA lost its cyclone status late this afternoon WST. Colder sea surface temperatures and a change in the upper air environment which sheared it apart, have resulted in its downgrading to a simple low pressure system with central pressure 996hPa. TC Iris has similarly been downgraded after less than a day at Category 1 cyclone status. It is moving SSW but is expected to swing to the SSE and to the west of New Caledonia.

Weather Industry Bureau's "Latest Weather Observations" become more "latest" Sat 24 Mar 2018: The BoM publishes current weather information from all its automatic weather stations for each state and capital city, such as those for NSW and Melbourne. At present, these are updated each half hour, but from next week they will be updated every 10 minutes.

Friday 23 March 2018 Final

 Torrential rain, widespread flooding on Far North QLD coast
Sat 10 Mar 2018

Heavy, near continuous rain fell on Queensland's North Tropical Coast and Tablelands from 6 to 10 March thanks to an unusual conjunction of circumstances.

A stream of active, rain-producing cloud pushes onto the North Tropical Coast around Ingham and Innisfail in this visible image from Himawari-8 at 08.00 EST 8 March. The unusually long convergence line was well formed at this time and extended over 1,000km to the NE of the coast. JMA processed by BoM.

Exceptionally moist air was already being dragged into the area between a tropical low in the Gulf of Carpentaria and a high pressure ridge up the QLD coast. Within this airstream was a convergence line that moved north very slowly, where winds from slightly different directions met and were forced to rise.

The high mountains behind the North Tropical Coast caused further strong ascent and delivered 500 to 700mm and as much as 1,000mm of heavy, continuous rain. As the BoM said in a note, "When the moist air comes onshore, it hits the ranges and has only one way to go – straight up. This generates even more cloud and intensifies the rainfall."

Rain also penetrated farther inland than would be normal in this type of event, bringer stronger flooding downstream from the upper reaches of many rivers. Rain lingered in the Tully to Innisfail area until the 9th and moved slowly north to Cairns and the Daintree from the 8th.

The resulting floods were the fourth in QLD in the past three weeks, following those in SE QLD, Townsville and western QLD. Communities were isolated, highways and roads cut and schools closed as waters rose, with the towns of Ingham and Halifax the worst affected. Over two hundred houses in and around Ingham were inundated while ten people had to be rescued from floodwaters. The Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who visited Ingham, said that 90% of homes and businesses had suffered flooding or damage. Floodwaters also covered sugar and banana plantations and farms in the area leading to loss of crops and delays in processing.

Seventy-two primary school children with eight teachers and a parent were stranded at Echo Creek Adventure Camp, 17km W of Tully, being rescued after six days' isolation. A disaster declaration was issued on 9 March for Hinchinbrook Shire, which includes Ingham and Halifax, as well as Mareeba, Cassowary Coast and Yarrabah. This gave additional powers to emergency services as well as paving the way for disaster relief. [Floodlist, ABC News, Brisbane Times,]

This article is broken into a summary of weather and river conditions in each of the main valleys followed by media and social media reaction. Firstly, this table gives a comparison of vital statistics across the main river systems, from the Herbert in the south to the Barron in the north.

Key figures for March 2018 North Tropical Coast floods

Catch- ment (sq km)
Rainfall 0900 5th to 0900 10th March (mm)
Peak river height (m)
Previous highest flood height and month
Highest recorded flood
Catch- ment avg
Top 5-day total




Ravenshoe Alert 620
Southern Atherton Tablelands

Ingham Pump Stn about 14.7, 2.7 above major, late afternoon 9th.

Similar to 02/2009.

15.20m 03/1967.

Tully/ Murray



Davidson Creek Alert 962
20km W Tully

Tully River: Euramo (6km S Tully) 8.88, 0.12m below major.
Murray Flats on Murray River, 8.80, 0.8 above major, late 9th.

Euramo: 9.04m 02/2009.

Murray Flats: highest in record starting 2004. Previous highest 8.71m 02/2009.

Euramo: 9.37m 01/1967.

Murray Flats: 8.80m 03/2018.




Bartle View 923
35km W Innisfail

Innisfail McAvoy Br 8.90, 1.80m above major, 00.30 10th.

Highest since 9.10m 02/1999.

9.40m 03/1967.

Russell/ Mulgrave



The Boulders 1,005
8km W Babinda

Mulgrave River at Gordonvale 15.50, 1.50 above major early 10th.
Russell River at Bucklands 7.97, 0.03 below major 0320 10th.

Gordonvale: Highest since 16.41m 12/2010.

Bucklands: Highest since 8.45m 03/2004.

Gordonvale: 17.50m 03/1967.

Bucklands: 8.80m 03/1949.




Copperload Dam Alert 551
15km SW Cairns

Cairns Airport 2.30, 0.2 below minor early 10th.

Levels reached at Cairns AP and Kamerunga Bridge were well below recent floods.


The figures are based on BoM real time data and may change after quality control. Catchment average rainfall is based on simple averaging of all available raingauges. Flood records in the last column should not be taken as definitive, as gauges to allow comparisons of floods were sparse before the mid-1950s and post-event surveys are rare. The BoM QLD Regional Office has compiled a history of flooding in the state which gives some idea of huge floods that have occurred in the past.

Conditions by catchment

The worst flooding was in the Herbert River, especially in and around Ingham. The Herbert is by far the largest river basin on the North Tropical Coast, with a catchment area of about 9,000 sq km. The coastal plains and immediate ranges had already been soaked by 150 to 250mm of rain between 28 February and 3 March as a result of the depression that moved through Townsville on the 1st. Ingham town had the highest total on the North Tropical Coast over those four days of 306mm.

The flooding rains in the Herbert began early on the 6th and did not clear the catchment until late on the 9th. Floodwaters covered much of the town and the sugar plantations and farms in the lower Herbert Valley as water at Ingham Pump Station passed the major flood level of 12.0m at 21.35 EST on Thursday 8th and stayed above major level until 18.41 on Sunday 11th, almost three days later. Peaks of 14.52m were reached several times on Friday afternoon 9th, with the BoM giving the absolute peak as "about 14.7m".

Other river valleys on the North Tropical Coast experienced flooding but not to the same extent as in the Herbert. None had received the heavy rain from the Townsville depression that the Ingham area did, so their catchments were not as sodden. However, as the table above shows, they all received even heavier rain than the Herbert catchment as the convergence line moved north. Six gauges in the Tully and Johnstone Valleys had three consecutive days with totals above 200mm, while The Boulders, just west of Babinda in the Russell Valley, had the dubious distinction of four consecutive 24-hour periods from the 7th to the 10th with over 200mm yielding 975mm.

Next north of the Herbert catchment, in the Tully and adjacent Murray River Valleys, the highest one-day rainfall for the whole event of 409mm to 0900 9th was recorded at Kirrama Range Alert, deep in the rainforests of the Kirrama National Park 30km SW of Tully. The Tully River at Euramo remained just below major flood level for three days to around midday Sunday 11th. The Murray River set a new record at the Murray Flats station which reported its first flood in February 2004, but the upstream Upper Murray gauge recorded only 8.11m at 0600 9th which has been exceeded in all but one of the nine significant flood events since its first in March 1996.

Although Tully is famed as the town of The Golden Gumboot, the next river north, the Johnstone River through Innisfail, is a strong contender for the title with its waters rising on the slopes of Mount Bartle Frere, Queensland's highest and Australia's wettest mountain. The top station of the cable car on the neighbouring Mount Bellenden Ker averages just over 8m of rain annually and holds the record for most rain in a year with 12,461.0mm falling in 2000.

With a combined catchment of about 1,600sq km, the two branches of the Johnstone which meet in the town of Innisfail drop rapidly through steep gorges onto a narrow coastal plain. This makes them very responsive to rain, with quick rises and falls as happened in this case. Unlike the other rivers which had broad flood peaks lasting several days, the readings at Innisfail's McAvoy Bridge yo-yoed, initially rising over 4.5m in just 5½ hours on the Friday morning 8 March. The sudden arrival of rainwater from upstream saw the river rise 2m in 4½ hours on Saturday evening 9 March, to its peak of 8.90m early the next morning, its second highest level since the maximum recorded level of March 1967.

Next to the north, in the small valleys of the Russell and Mulgrave Rivers, the short, relatively sharp falls of the rivers from the mountains again made for quick flood responses to rainfall. The highest rainfall registered for the event, 1,005mm just west of Babinda, pushed the Russell River to its highest level since March 2004 while farther north on the Mulgrave the town of Gordonvale had two peaks into the major category on Thursday 8th afternoon and again early Saturday 10th morning.

By Friday 9th and Saturday 10th, in the Barron River Valley, the second-largest catchment on the North Tropical Coast mostly in the Atherton Tablelands, the convergence system was waning and heavy rain becoming more scattered. Although the Barron put on a spectacular display at the famous Barron Falls (see below), the river failed to reach minor flood level at Cairns Airport.

Media and social media reports

With floods affecting or threatening so many towns and food-producing locations, media interest was intense, while video, photos and commentary were the main topics of social media traffic. Here is a selection:

Australia Tropical Cyclone Nora forms in Gulf Fri 23 Mar 2018 - The tropical low moving around the NT Arnhem Coast into the Gulf of Carpentaria became a Category 1 cyclone named Nora around 04.00 EST this morning, 23 March. It had strengthened to a Category 3 by mid-evening with a central pressure of 976hPa and sustained winds near the centre of 120km/h with gusts to 165km/h. The cyclone has good upper outflow indicating it will develop further. The BoM is forecasting it to strengthen to Category 4 by Saturday morning 24 March and maintain that strength through Sunday as it skirts down the western side of Cape York Peninsula, making landfall in the SE Gulf. However, tropical cyclones in the Gulf have a reputation for behaving unpredictably.

There is an extraordinary situation at present with two cyclones operating in Australian waters, as shown in this BoM satellite image taken late this afternoon (click for larger image), as well as two tropical lows that could develop into cyclones. Apart from TC Nora, TC Marcus is swinging in a wide arc around the NW coast of WA after attaining the rare Category 5 status for about 24 hours on Thursday, the first at this level in Australian waters since TC Monica in 2006 [ABC News, CSIROnews image from NASA]. It is currently at Category 3 and is losing strength as it heads for SW WA where it will be below cyclone strength, bringing only showers, storms and gusty winds. Two other tropical lows are being watched by the BoM, one NE of Australia between the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia and a second well to the NW of Marcus in the Indian Ocean. More details in this ABC News story.

Weather Industry BoM and ABC announce partnership Fri 23 Mar 2018: The Minister for the Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, today announced a partnership between the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The announcement, made on World Meteorological Day, indicates that rural and regional areas will be particularly targeted, with one project a weekly agricultural forecast direct from Bureau meteorologists every Sunday on Landline. Another project already up and running is a series about weird weather, showcased in this ABC article and to be presented on YouTube. Other projects and the aims of the partnership are given in the press release.

The announcement was made at BoM headquarters in Melbourne, where the Minister also took advantage of the Bureau's TV forecasting suite to play weatherman, giving a forecast particularly tailored to his electorate of Kooyong. I feel there is some polishing to do if he's to continue in the role.

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]

Australia 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.

Australia 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.

International 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]

International 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]

International 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]

International 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.

International 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.

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