Australian Weather News

April 1998

Acknowledgements: Australian Weather News gratefully acknowledges the Bureau of Meteorology as the collector and main source of meteorological data in Australia, along with the thousands of observers who record the weather and rainfall daily. I also thank Don White, Michael Bath, Jimmy Deguara, Jacob Aufdemkampe , and Michael Thompson who routinely provide me with much appreciated information.


Friday 10 April 1998 Storms in Sydney, Brisbane

Torrential rain floods Sydney 18 Jul 98

Torrential rain caused further flash flooding in Sydney this morning and afternoon as up to 200mm of rain fell in some suburbs in just a few hours. A boy was drowned after being swept into a creek at North Rocks late afternoon. Major roads in the city's inner west, in the Banksia and Mascot areas in the south, and around Chatswood and Dee Why in the north were closed by 30 to 60cm of water as drains, clogged by a buildup of rubbish after an extended dry spell, failed to cope with the rain. Cars were floating in some streets, and many were stranded by the rising waters. Public transport was disrupted, with flooding trapping 100 passengers in a train in a tunnel on the Eastern Suburbs line, and water across tracks elsewhere causing delays and cancellations. The police station at Newtown, the St Vincents Hospitals in Darlinghurst and a Castle Hill physiotherapy clinic were flooded, and a roof of the old Grace Brothers building at Broadway collapsed, flooding several shops, during the storms. Houses were flooded in Banksia, Rockdale, Waverley, Randwick, Woollahra, Malabar, Darlinghurst, Paddington, Annandale, Lilyfield, Pyrmont, Collaroy and North Sydney. 180 people were trapped overnight by floodwaters at Narrabeen as Narrabeen Lagoon rose. 5,000 homes across Sydney lost power. The Fire Brigade reported that calls for assistance were being received at the high rate of 150 per hour, while 600 State Emergency Services personnel responded to over 1,300 calls between last night and tonight. The NRMA received between 300 and 450 calls per hour during the day.

The storms developed in moist, unstable air to the east of a small but strong area of convergence in the upper air which moved over the region during the morning. At the surface, a broad trough projected from central-eastern Queensland across the NSW Mid-North Coast, where a small low pressure system formed during the morning before drifting east. A number of centres of intense rainfall, accompanied by thunder, moved slowly east across parts of the metropolitan area. The falls in and south of the city occurred between about 7 and 9am, with the city gauge receiving 45mm between 7 and 8.30am. Another cell gave Chatswood 95mm in the hour to 12.45pm. At Frenchs Forest, Don White reports that he received 84mm over 4 hours to 3pm, with a further 122.6mm to 5pm, 108mm of which fell in the 80 minutes from 3.40 to 5pm.

The heaviest 24 hour falls to 9am this morning are made up of rain from the storms yesterday afternoon and this morning. They included 118.0mm at Randwick Racecourse, 75.8 at Mosman, 75.2 at Sydney Airport, 74.4 at Sydney City, 71.2 at Rose Bay and 70.8 at Randwick Bowling Club. An extraordinary 169.9mm was recorded at the Point Perpendicular lighthouse, south of Jervis Bay, during the period, whilst Culburra Beach on the northern side of the Bay registered 130.0mm and Greenwell Point, further north, recorded 68.2mm.

However, the truly remarkable 24 hour totals to 9am Saturday reflect the rain which fell mostly in a band across Sydney's northern suburbs during the afternoon -- Castle Cove 279mm, Belrose 263, Ingleside 250.0, Frenchs Forest 227.8, Cromer 190.4, Palm Beach 185.0, Gordon 166, Sydney City 165, Pymble 163.2, Avalon 154.2, Riverview 141.6, Epping 140.2 and Turramurra 128.6. Riverview Observatory's recording of 141.6 was its highest June 24 hour rainfall on record, the previous highest in 77 years being 120.9. The heaviest unofficial report was 279.5 at Davidson. Point Perpendicular recorded a further 60mm, bringing its two-day total to 230mm.

At Sydney's official city gauge, 239mm fell during the 48 hours to 9am Saturday, most of it between Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon. In the 5 months from November to March this year, Sydney recorded 202.4mm.


Severe storms lash Brisbane's west

A band of thunderstorms which swept across far southeastern Queensland mid to late afternoon caused damage and three deaths. The storms developed southwest of Ipswich early afternoon and moved northeast to cross the coast north of Brisbane around 6pm. Hail, wind gusts to 63 knots and heavy rain accompanied the storms. Greatest damage was reported from Ipswich, west of Brisbane, after what police described as a "mini-tornado" swept through part of the city. Fallen powerlines were responsible for three deaths. An Energex (electricity) spokesperson said over 100 power lines had been downed, causing power blackouts for more than 28,000 homes and businesses. Buildings were damaged, with roofs lifted off some houses and glass panels sucked from high-rise buildings. roads cut by fallen trees, and cars damaged by hail. As the storms swept out to sea, they caused damage to the Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race fleet, with 24 boats retiring, two after dismasting.

The storms developed in a broad trough lying through central-eastern Qld and northeastern NSW to join a small low pressure system which developed off the NSW mid-north coast. The Brisbane area lay just north of an area of considerable instability and low-level moisture.

Thursday 9 April 1998 Storms in Sydney

Severe storms lash Sydney and mid-north coast

A band of severe thunderstorms crossed the Sydney metropolitan area late afternoon bringing down trees and power lines, and causing flash flooding. Thousands of homes in Botany in Sydney's south, Terry Hills to the north, and the Central Coastal areas of Mount White, Mooney Mooney and Gosford lost power during the storms. Heavy rain began falling in Sydney's western suburbs around 5.30pm, and cleared the coast around 8pm. Guildford recorded 49mm in the hour from 5.26pm, whilst other heavy one-hour totals included 39.5mm at Baulkham Hills, 39 at Lidcombe, 35 at Potts Hill, 34 at Strathfield, 32.5 at Narrabeen Lagoon, 31.5 at Graystanes, 30.5 at Kings Langley and 28 at Bondi.

Heavy rain was reported later in the evening to the west of Port Macquarie, with Ellenborough recording 33mm and Wauchope 27 in the hour to midnight.


Sunday 5 April 1998 Hot weather in southern WA

Heat spreads in southern WA

Maximum temperatures 6 to 10 degrees or more above normal were commonplace across the state's southern third today, with the exception of the coastal areas. Moora and Merredin both reported tops of 37C, 12 above average for April.



Saturday 4 April 1998 Hot weather in southern WA

Hot weather continues in the west

Abnormally hot, dry weather continued across parts of southern WA today, with top temperatures at some locations 12 to 13C above the April norm. Ravensthorpe and Esperance recorded maxima of 36C, both 13 above average, whilst Wandering (35C) and Ongerup (34C) were 12 above. A weak cool change began moving across the state's southwest late in the day.



Friday 3 April 1998 Hot in southwest WA

Hot in southwest WA

It was an unusually hot April day in WA's far southwest today, with several stations in the region reporting top temperatures around 11 above normal. Manjimup, Pemberton and Cape Leeuwin all reported maxima of 32C, with Albany Airport reporting 33C. The conditions developed as hot air from the state's north moved down on the tail end of a high pressure system. Temperatures in the north have continued the pattern set all summer -- Mardie on the state's northwest coast recorded maxima of 40C today, and 41 yesterday and the day before.


Thursday 2 April 1998 Heavy rain on NSW Mid-North Coast; cold in Qld; windy in Tas

Heavy rain on NSW Mid-North Coast

The passage of an upper trough of cold air caused brief heavy rain on the NSW coast around Port Macquarie overnight. Laurieton Post Office reported the highest 24 hour total to 9am, 191.0mm, whilst Lake Cathie, about 15km north along the coast recorded 95.5mm. 82mm of the Lake Cathie total fell between 7pm yesterday and 1am this morning, whilst Port Macquarie Airport recorded 56mm in the 3 hours to midnight, with 39mm falling in the hour to midnight. The rain, accompanied by some thunder, spread north along the coast to give 24 hour to 9am totals of 76mm at Port Macquarie Airport, 58.2 to Port Macquarie town, 49.6 at Kempsey, 54.0 at Ballina and 55.6 at Alstonville.

Cold day in central Queensland

Thick cloud and some heavy accompanying rain combined to give central Queensland an unusually cold day today. Isisford, Blackall and Tambo all reported maximum temperatures of 21 or 22C, around 8 below the April average. Blackall reported 32mm of rain in the 3 hours to noon, with the temperature only 17C at that time. On the north tropical coast, Ingham had a wet start to the day, with 63mm falling between 6 and 9am.

Gales continue in Tasmania

Strong to galeforce westerly winds continued to whip around coastal and mountain areas of Tasmania today in the wake of Tuesday's strong southwesterly change. Temperatures were a little warmer than yesterday, and little rain was reported with the wind.


Wednesday 1 April 1998 Cold in Tas and Vic

First touch of winter comes to Tasmania and Victoria

A strong cold front which crossed Tasmania yesterday brought wintry conditions to the state overnight. Gales were experienced for much of today at coastal and mountain locations. Liawenee on the Central Plateau reported 7cm of snow on the ground at 9am, and temperatures only just made it into the teens at most coastal stations during the day. Atop Mount Wellington, the temperature during the day ranged from -3.7 to +0.5. In Victoria, Wilsons Promintory reported gales throughout the day, with gusts to 68 knots in the early morning, and above 50 knots for much of the day. It was a cold day in western Victoria, with Hamilton's top temperature of 13.6 being 6.6 below the April average, whilst minimum temperatures of only 1C were reported from Ballarat, Castlemaine and Longerenong, all 6 or 7 below average.