Australian Weather News

March 1997

Note: No news items were generated between 7 and 31 March.

Further rain worsens Qld floods, and cyclone now a threat

Friday 7 March 1997 13.30 EDST

Further heavy rain in northwest and southern Queensland over the past day is again pushing floodwater levels higher, whilst a low pressure area in the Coral sea reached cyclone strength late yesterday and is moving westwards.

Further heavy rain has been reported in the Cloncurry area, with totals for the 24 hours to 09.00 EST this morning of 155mm at Devoncourt, 68mm at Glenlyon, 58mm at Woondoola. In Cloncurry, where houses were inundated yesterday, renewed high levels are expected today. Further west, there has been isolated heavy rain in Queensland's far north west and south west. Reports to 09.00 this morning included Stonehenge 89, Glenlyon 68, Quilpie 50 and South Comongin 64, whilst in the 48 hours to 09.00 yesterday, Listowel Downs reported 167mm. At Mt Isa, the Leichhardt River appears to have peaked, but four or five streets had to be evacuated overnight. Major flooding continues there, and is expected to move downstream towards Floraville. The recent rain is also causing significant rises with minor to moderate flooding in the upper Paroo and Bulloo Rivers, minor flooding in the Landsborough River, which peaked at 4.75m at 09.00 yesterday, major flooding in the Georgina River around and downstream of Urandangie, and moderate flooding in the Burke River around Boulia.

In the south of the state, renewed river rises are occurring in streams that lead into the Balonne. Bungil Creek is in major flood, and expected to peak at Roma today, whilst other streams in the area are rising. As a result, further major flooding is now expected in the Balonne between Surat and St George over the weekend.

Tropical Cyclone Justin is intensifying in the Coral Sea about 800km east of Cairns. This is a very large system, and is already generating strong to galeforce winds along much of the Queensland coast. Whilst it is moving toward the coast at present, computer models are suggesting it will eventually move away to the southeast.


Heavy rain causes river rises in SE Qld and NE NSW

Thursday 6 March 1997 13.30.EDST

Heavy rain fell overnight on the coast north of Brisbane and on the NSW Mid-north Coast thanks to a generously moist onshore stream converging into a trough lying to the west of the area. Minor flooding is occurring in the Mary River above Gympie, and the Maroochy River and adjacent Sunshine Coast streams in Queensland, and in the Bellinger and Nambucca Rivers in NSW. Heavy falls in the 24 hours to 09.00 EST in Queensland included Cooran 255mm, Cooroy 250, Imbil 237, Pomona 232, Yandina 215 and Kandanga and Nambour 211. At Nambour, 145mm fell in the 6 hours to 21.00, whilst Eumundi, 20km north of Nambour, reported 245mm in the 12 hours to 03.00 Thursday, and Beerwah Vale (? Bureau gave as Eerwah Vale and Eewarah Vale), 20km south of Nambour, reported 200mm in the 8 hours to 20.00 Wednesday.. In NSW Bellingen reported 136mm in the 24 hours to 09.00 AEST, Forster 103, Coffs Harbour 96, Macksville 92, Kempsey 89 and Yamba 84.

In a wonderful demonstration of orographic rainfall, Dalrymple Heights (Eungella) reported 203mm in the 24 hours to 09.00 EST this morning. Eungella lies at the right-angled junction of two ranges west of Mackay, Qld, which rise to between 800 and 1200m. Winds from the east are funnelled into the narrowing Pioneer River valley between the ranges, then forced to ascend nearly 1000m where the ranges join. Finch Hatton, down in the valley, recorded 92mm, but all other falls in the area were around 10 to 30mm.


Queensland/NSW inland flood progress

Thursday 6 March 1997 13.10 EDST


Cloncurry, Qld, declared disaster area after severe major flooding

Thursday 6 March 1997 14.05 EDST

The northwest Queensland town of Cloncurry is recovering from torrential rain and extensive flooding which isolated the town earlier this week, lead to 120 evacuations, and has caused widespread damage to roads, railways, bridges and other infrastructure. In the 3 days ended 09.00 Tuesday, Devoncourt station, 60km southwest of Cloncurry and in the headwaters of the Cloncurry River which flows through town, recorded 456mm, and Duchess, 40km further to the westsouthwest recorded 349. Carsland, about 25km southwest of the town recorded 234mm and Fort Constantine station, the same distance to the northeast, reported 255. The River peaked in the town on Tuesday at a little over 8 metres. Major flooding is also occurring in the Corella and Leichardt Rivers with a peak of 6.10m at 06.00 Wednesday on the Corella at Carsland. Falls to 09.00 this morning were in the 50 to 75mm range.

Heavy rain in nearby Mount Isa reportedly washed away a house and shed on Wednesday and threatened other properties. Meanwhile, Yarraman station, about 70km northwest of Longreach, reported that it was raining fish! Baby perch, up to 7cm in length, reportedly fell with heavy rain over the weekend or on Monday. A deep low near Mount Isa in the monsoon trough which extends across northern Australia is responsible for the rain.


Torrential rain breaks drought in far southeast NSW

Thursday 6 March 1997 14.00 EDST

Continuous heavy rain fell in the Bega Valley and neighboring areas from mid-morning last Sunday to Monday morning breaking a long-standing drought in the area. Bega Automatic Weather Station recorded 231mm in the 24 hours to 09.00 AEST Monday morning, with 104mm falling between 18.00 and 21.00 on Sunday. Candelo, about 20km southwest of Bega, first reported 435mm during the 24 hours to 09.00 Monday, but this amount appears to have been revised slightly downward -- the weekly total to 09.00 Tuesday being given as 381 (Bega's weekly total was 248, i.e. only 17mm fell in the six days to Sunday morning.) To the south, Merimbula reported 181 in the 24 hours to 09.00 Monday, and to the north, Ulladulla reported 166, bringing its total for the month so far to over 240mm. Strong convergence onto the coast, assisted by an offshore trough with a small low near Ulladulla appears to be the cause of the intense rainfall.


Wet season record broken in Darwin

Wednesday 5 March 1997 19.30 EDST

With nearly two months of the official wet season still to come, Darwin has exceeded its previous all time record wet season rainfall record of 2381.6mm. The wet season officially runs for 7 months from October to April, and the previous record was set in 1974/75, the year of Cyclone Tracy. The record was broken shortly after midday yesterday, in a downpour which gave Darwin Airport 76mm and parts of suburban Darwin 160mm in the four hours to 13.00 CST. 24-hour totals to 09.00CST this morning included 130 at Darwin Airport and Eleven Mile, 166 at Humpty Doo and 153 at Howard Springs. In the five days so far this month, Darwin Airport has recorded 408mm, compared with a total of 435mm in the whole of February, The average wet season rainfall at Darwin Airport is 1552mm.


Monsoon rains cause problems around Darwin and Mt Isa

Sunday 2 March 1997 18.40 EDST

The monsoon trough has become active again, dumping nearly 200mm on parts of Darwin overnight, and 150mm in the Mt Isa - Cloncurry area over the past day. The trough lay from the Kimberleys across the Barkly Tablelands to a low near Mt Isa this morning, with substantial thunderstorm activity to its north overnight.

A band of heavy rain and storms appears to have moved south over the Darwin area late last night. Pirlangimpi (Garden Point) on Melville Island, about 150km north of Darwin reported 227mm in the 24 hours to 09.00 CST this morning, with 6-hourly amounts of 74mm to 15.00 yesterday, 185mm to 21.00, 17mm to 03.00 and 20mm to 09.00. Although these figures don't tally, it is clear the heaviest rain fell late afternoon to early evening. Darwin Airport's 24 hour total was 102mm of which 78mm fell between 21.00 and midnight. Rain was heaviest in northern suburbs, with Coconut Grove reporting 188mm and Wagait Beach 193 for the 24 hours. About 200km southeast, Tindal Airport recorded 76mm for the 24 hours, 56mm of that between 03.00 and 06.00. News reports indicate that local flooding in northern suburbs was exacerbated by an exceptionally high tide of 6.2m. Thirty centimetres of water entered 15 homes, a retaining wall collapsed on a house in Nightcliffe, and there were many road closures in the Nightcliffe/Casuarina area.

The Bureau of Meteorology in Queensland issued flood warnings this morning for the Cloncurry, Leichhardt and Flinders Rivers, which flow into the Gulf of Carpentaria following falls of over 150mm in the Cloncurry/Mt Isa area in the 24 hours to 09.00 EST. News reports this morning indicated that Mt Isa was isolated by road due to washaways, flooding and landslides, with a number of people stranded between Cloncurry and Mt Isa. Further south, Longreach reported 44mm between 21.00 yesterday and 03.00 this morning, with a 24 hour total of 65.


Widespread storms cross southern NSW

Sunday 2 March 1997 19.15 EDST

Though there have been no reports of damaging weather to date, widespread thunderstorms with heavy rain and some hail were reported through southern and southeastern NSW from early this morning. The heaviest falls appear to have been to the east and southeast of a deep, slow-moving trough over central NSW, aided by colder air moving across aloft. Walwa, about 80km east of Albury, reported 120mm in the 24 hours to 09.00 EDST, whilst Conargo in the Riverina reported the highest 24 hour fall in NSW of 75mm. Wagga had 33mm in a heavy thunderstorm between 03.00 and 06.00, Cooma Airport and Cabramurra recorded 30mm between 06.00 and 09.00, whilst between 09.00 and 12.00, Albury Airport reported 25mm and Ulladulla 67 (after an earlier unverified but not inconsistent report of 33mm between 08.00 and 09.00). Bega reported 42mm between 09.00 and 15.00, with a further 42mm to 18.00. Falls between 25 and 50mm have been widespread through the eastern Riverina, south and central eastern NSW and eastern Victoria. Large hail was reported from Mudgee earlier this afternoon, as the main area of storms appeared to be contracting slowing east over the coast and ranges.