Australian Weather News

May 1998


Acknowledgments: 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.

Sunday 31 May 1998 No reports of significant weather


Saturday 30 May 1998 No reports of significant weather


Friday 29 May 1998 Gales in southern Tas

Gales lash Hobart

Winds gusted to 54 knots in Hobart this morning in strong northwesterlies ahead of a front which passed through the city early afternoon. The peak gust was recorded at the Hobart City weather station at 8.11am, though gusts above 40 knots were experienced frequently between 7 and 11am. Atop Mount Wellington, the highest gust was 73 knots at 7am.


Thursday 28 May 1998 Heavy rain continues in Onslow; high winds in SW WA

The Onslow deluge breaks more records 09 June 1999

Onslow recorded 184.3mm in the 24 hours to 9am today, easily breaking its previous May daily rainfall record of 123.8mm. Not satisfied, the heavens produced a further 42mm between 9am and 3pm. The town's consecutive 24 hour rainfall totals of 59.6mm to 9am on the 27th, 184.3 on the 28th and 63.8 on the 29th give a total three-day fall of 307.7mm. This breaks the town's previous monthly record for the month of May of 259.1mm. Onslow's average May rainfall is only 44.7mm. Rainfall totals fell off rapidly around Onslow, with Urala, on the coast about 30km northwest of Onslow, recording 121.4 for the 24 hours to 9 this morning, and a further 84.7mm to 9am Friday, for a three day total of 224.1. Most other Pilbara falls to 9 this morning were around 60 to 70mm.

Another blow in SW WA

A deepening secondary depression passed close to WA's southwest coast in the early hours of this morning, giving the region another short blast of high winds. Cape Leeuwin reported sustained galeforce winds from 11.30 last night to after 7 this morning, with the highest mean speed of 55 knots and highest gust of 68 knots occurring at 1.50am. The AWS at Cape Naturaliste recorded a top gust of 55 knots at 1.46am, whilst the new AWS at Busselton got its first workout with a gust of 62 knots at 1.22am.


Wednesday 27 May 1998 Torrential rain in WA's Pilbara

Record May rain hits Onslow, WA

A phenomenal, isolated rain event occurred at Onslow on the Pilbara coast of WA today. The town recorded 184mm of rain in just 15 hours between 3am and 6pm. 54mm fell between 3am and 9am, followed by 109mm from 9am to 3pm, then a further 21mm 3pm to 6pm. In Australia, official 24 hour rainfall totals are recorded at 9am each day, and Onslow's previous highest May 24 hour rainfall, in a record dating back to 1885, was 123.8mm. The town recorded 130mm in just 9 hours, and rain was continuing tonight. The apparent cause was the slow-moving tip of the same cold front that passed through Perth yesterday morning. Converging very moist air either side of the front was forced to rise, and the slow movement of the front meant that steady moderate to heavy rain stayed in the same area. Winds were light throughout the period of heaviest rain, and no thunder was reported.


Tuesday 26 May 1998 Heavy rain in Perth, hot in eastern WA

Rain and gales sweep SW Western Australia as the state's east swelters

Torrential rain fell in Perth and gales swept southwestern coastal areas early this morning as an active cold front moved through. Mt Lawley, Perth's official weather recording site, registered 38mm between midnight and 9am, and most suburbs near or in the Darling Ranges scored 30mm or more. Bickley AWS recorded 7.6mm in 10 minutes to 2.05am, with wind gusts to 42 knots. There were general falls of 10 to 25mm along the whole WA coastal strip from the southwestern tip to the Shark Bay area. The rain band moved across the area ahead of an active cold front, whilst a deep low of around 976hPa passed close to the south coast, bringing brief coastal gales. Cape Leeuwin AWS recorded wind gusts of 58 knots at 1am and 55 knots at 4.35am.

Meanwhile, most of southern WA away from the coast experienced an extraordinarily warm May night last night, with temperatures 8 to 11 above normal. Norseman's minimum of 19.2, 10.8 above, was typical of temperatures in central southern areas. The warm weather moved east during the day to give the southeast of the state maximum temperatures around 7 to 10 above average.


Monday 25 May 1998 No reports of significant weather


Sunday 24 May 1998 Gale to storm force winds continue in Tas, Vic

Deep low crosses Tasmania

A low of around 990hPa moved northeast across Tasmania early this morning bringing gales to the island state and Victoria, and the first substantial snowfalls of the season to the Victorian Alps and the NSW Snowy Mountains. It's unusual for a low to move across Tasmania, the preferred tracks being through Bass Strait, or down the west coast of the island. Gale to storm force winds were recorded around the coasts and in highland areas of both states, with Wilsons Promintory recording hurricane force winds at 6am with a sustained speed of 63 knots and gusts to 81 knots. Winds at the Prom continued to average 50 knots, plus or minus 5, until late afternoon. By late today, the low had moved east of Bass Strait, and weakened to a central pressure of 1000hPa.

Snow fell in the Victorian Alps and on the Snowy Mountains of NSW, with Thredbo reporting snow down to the Village, and Kosciuszko Chalet recording 10cm of snow depth at 9am which had reduced to 5cm by 3pm.


Saturday 23 May 1998 Gale to storm force winds lash Tas, Vic

Deep low brings stormy weather to the southeast

A low of around 990hPa slowly approached Tasmania's southwest coast today, bringing gale to storm force winds to the Tasmanian and Victorian coasts and high country. With strong, moist onshore northwesterlies, Mt Read, inland from Zeehan on Tasmania's renowned wet west coast notched up 84mm between midnight and 10pm, with 56mm falling after midday.

Some of the higher sustained winds (with gusts in brackets) reported from the automatic weather station network during the day were: Tasmania -- Cape Grim 49 knots at 11am and noon (70 at 10am), Mt Read 40 at 5am (56 at 8.45am), King Island AP 36 at noon (50 at 12.30pm); Victoria -- Dunns Hill near Mt Dandenong 30 at 12.15am (46 at 12.25am), Cape Otway 34 at 3pm (50 at 3pm); NSW -- Thredbo Crackenback 44 at 2am (52 between 1 and 2am), Montague Island 32 at 4pm (68 at 11pm).

The automatic weather station atop Mt Buller in Victoria generated some interesting readings: at 8.14am mean wind 55 knots with gusts to 116, at 12.57pm mean 75 gusts 96, and at 6.57pm mean 42 gusts 123. Several of the high level automatic weather stations periodically report remarkable windspeeds like this in conditions where such winds may be possible. It is interesting to conjecture whether recordings like this are real, or due to equipment malfunctioning in a hostile environment -- at Mt Buller, the temperature hovered just below freezing level most of the day.


Friday 22 May 1998 No reports of significant weather


Thursday 21 May 1998 Gales in SW and SE Australia

Gales continue in Bass Strait, develop in SW Western Australia

The low pressure complex that produced gales in Bass Strait yesterday moved only very slowly away to the east of Tasmania today, with a trough westwards through Bass Strait maintaining a tight gradient and mean winds of 35 to 45 knots throughout the day. Wilsons Promintory reported a peak gust of 59 knots mid morning. In Western Australia, gales developed in the southwest either side of a cool change that passed through Cape Leeuwin, Australia's southwestern-most point, around midday.


Wednesday 20 May 1998 Rain effects on Qld and NSW; Bass Strait storm

Recent heavy rains bring mixed fortunes

Much of the eastern halves of Queensland and NSW have received between 50 and 300mm of rain since the beginning of May. In NSW, there has been a dramatic easing of the drought, with official NSW Government drought declaration figures released mid-month showing the drought-affected area of the state dropping from 50 to 22%. The early "winter" rains have given grain growers one of their best starts in years, though the long-standing droughts in the Monaro and western Riverina still continue.

In Queensland, continuing unseasonal rain in the Townsville to Cairns area is creating major problems for sugar cane farmers. Much of the area passed its average annual rainfall total earlier this month, and has recorded around 200mm so far during May. The Lucinda/Innisfail area registered a further 100 to 140mm last Friday. To date, no cane has been planted in the area, with farmers saying it will take a month of fine weather before the ground is dry enough to get onto their paddocks to plant.

Gales lash Bass Strait

A small secondary low pressure system formed in eastern Bass Strait overnight southwest of the major low complex operating off the NSW coast. The secondary tightened the pressure gradient over Bass Strait giving sustained winds of 35 to 50 knots for most of the day at Cape Grim, on Tasmania's northwest tip, and Wilsons Promintory in Victoria.


Tuesday 19 May 1998 Heavy rain continues in E NSW

Heavy rain in southeastern NSW 29 Nov 98

The low which formed off the NSW north coast on Monday morning continued to drift slowly south, parallel to the coast yesterday and today, deepening slowly to around 1000hPa by 9am this morning, when it was off the coast near Sydney. Meanwhile, strong upward motion in the lower atmosphere to the northeast of the low generated an area of heavy rain which swung around the south of the low, arriving on the Illawarra and Sydney coastlines early this morning.

Two to three inches of rain fell over about 9 hours to 9am, bringing local flooding and causing disruptions to morning peak hour traffic and a fatal train derailment. Two railway drivers were killed early this morning near Robertson when their train side-swiped an old road overbridge abutment which had been dislodged shortly before by a minor landslip. The train, carrying steel from Port Kembla to Whyalla in South Australia, was derailed and tipped on its side. In Sydney, local flooding put water over many roads in the city's west and northwest, where the Old Windsor Road was closed at Kellyville. Wakehurst Parkway was also closed, and water across the Cahill Expressway and Sir John Young Crescent also caused problems. The rain, combined with strong winds, also downed trees and powerlines, and closed the Illawarra Line between Waterfall and Thirroul when a fallen tree brought down overhead powerlines. The State Emergency Services fielded over 100 calls for help, mostly from northwest Sydney.

Heaviest falls in the 24 hours to 9am, by which time rain had ceased in most areas, were in Sydney's northern and coastal suburbs, and along the Illawarra escarpment. In the Sydney metropolitan area, the heaviest falls were 229.0mm at Castle Cove, 148.0 at Epping and 147.2 at Wahroonga closely followed by 145.0 at Oratava Avenue, West Pennant Hills, 144.0 at Fiddeltown and Turramurra 142.6. Following some substantial falls yesterday, Castle Cove's 48 hour total to 9am was 281mm and Wahroonga's 220mm. In southern suburbs, Barnwell Park near Five Dock registered 130. In the Illawarra, Darkes Forest, on top of the escarpment to the northwest of Wollongong, topscored with 146mm. The Pie Shop at Robertson, close to where the derailment occurred, recorded 125mm. Most daily reporting rainfall stations in the Sydney area recorded more than 75mm for the period, whilst most of the coastal strip from the Hunter Valley (including the upper Hunter) south to the Victorian border reported falls of 25 to 50mm.

Rain was most intense overnight, with Sydney's Observatory Hill recording 62mm between 11.30pm and 4 this morning. Pennant Hills registered 52.5mm between 2 and 4am, Homebush 47mm between midnight and 3.30am, and Sydney Airport 46mm between midnight and 3am. At Darkes Forest, 86.5mm fell between midnight and 5am, 66mm in the 3 hours to 3am. With the deepening low just offshore, the automatic weather station at Bellambi reported consistent wind gusts to 40/42 knots through the morning, whilst Sydney Airport recorded a mean wind of 35 knots at its midnight observation.


Monday 18 May 1998 Good rain continues in E NSW

Good rain continues through eastern NSW as Tasman Low winds up 24 May 98, 29 Nov 98

Moderate to heavy rain fell today on the South and Central Coasts and Northern Tablelands and Slopes of NSW as a trough offshore and an upper trough and cold air interacted. During the early morning hours, a low formed in the trough off the North Coast, deepening to 1006hPa by midday, and combined with a 1028hPa high in the south Tasman to bring a strong to galeforce moist southerly stream onto the NSW coast. By mid afternoon, both Nobbys Signal Station in Newcastle and Lord Howe Island were reporting average winds of 34 knots from the south and east respectively, with the low deepening and showing little sign of movement.

Heavy rain fell overnight on the Central Coast and in Sydney's northern suburbs, with notable totals for the 24 hours to 9am including 101.2mm at Avalon, 96.0 at Palm Beach, 93.0 at The Entrance, 87.8 at Wyong, 82 at Newport, 67.8 at Belrose and 64.8 at Frenchs Forest. At Avalon, 43mm fell between 2 and 4am, with a further 23.5mm between 5 and 7am. Narrabeen Lagoon recorded 47mm between 6 and 9am. In Sydney's south, Bexley recorded 98mm for the 24 hours to 9am and Ingleside 97.4mm. On the South Coast, Wandandian, south of Nowra, registered 62.8, Bodalla 61.3 and Milton 56.4. Other heavy 24 hour totals were Clarence Town 60 and Upper Chichester 58 in the Hunter, Armidale Uni 37.8 on the Northern Tablelands, Croppa Creek 37.4 on the North West Slopes, and, over the Queensland border, Yelarbon 66.2 and Goondiwindi AP 37.6 on the Darling Downs.

Variable rain continued through daylight hours in much the same area. The heaviest rain moved into Sydney's western suburbs mid morning, giving 9am to 3pm totals around the old inch, such as Parramatta 28mm, Prospect Dam 27, Richmond AP 25, Riverview 23 and Bankstown AP 22. With the southerly airstream, the heaviest falls were generally quite close to the coast -- Port Macquarie 17, Narara (Gosford) 16, Nowra 16, Ulladulla 21 and Montague Island 25.


Sunday 17 May 1998 Patchy heavy rain in E NSW

Patchy heavy rain continues in NSW 29 Nov 98

With a trough lingering off the coast and cold unstable air aloft, rain with widely scattered heavy falls continued through the eastern half of NSW during Sunday. The heaviest falls were overnight in the Gosford region north of Sydney, where Narara recorded 106.2mm for the 24 hours to 9am, Peats Ridge 74.4, Ourimbah 73.6 and Wyee PO 63.8. These may have been associated with the development of a short-lived low centre off the coast, which freshened southerly winds in the area significantly during the morning.

In the north of the state, an area of heavy rain developed on the southern edge of a large cloudband traversing southern Queensland. Moree AP recorded 31mm between 5 and 9am, and Armidale Uni 18 between 9am and noon. A heavy and prolonged storm late in the day gave Goondiwindi, across the border in Queensland, 28mm between 3 and 9pm, while Devlin, 10km north of Garah, NSW, and 80km SW of Goondiwindi recorded 73.0mm for the 24 hours to 9am this morning. An isolated area of heavy rain also developed during the morning in the Central West, giving Parkes 37mm for the 24 hours to 9am, and 31mm between 3am and noon.


Saturday 16 May 1998 Rain continues in SE Qld and E NSW

Rain continues in southeast Queensland and eastern NSW 18 May 98, 29 Nov 98

Rain contracted from yesterday's widespread falls across the east of the nation to be concentrated in the northeastern third of NSW and southeastern Qld. The heaviest falls were along Queensland's Moreton coast and on the central and northern plains and slopes of NSW, where gaugings were generally 10 to 40mm. The coastal strip north and south of Brisbane received the heaviest falls, with several totals over 100mm in the 24 hours to 9am. These included Teewah, near Tewantin 160.0mm, Mt Cotton West 121, Coolum 120.2 and Tewantin 120mm (99.2mm of which fell steadily between 11pm and 6am). Miami recorded 117, Capalaba 114.2, Gold Coast Seaway 109 (61.8mm in 3 hours to 3.30am), Southport 108.2, Coolum Beach 106.4 and Boreen Point 102. In NSW the Central West and far North Coast were the main beneficiaries, with Tweed Heads recording 119mm, Byron Bay 84, Coonamble AP 54 and Gilgandra 51. A broad, moist surface trough combined with an upper trough passing across the area to produce the heavier falls.

During the day, rain tapered off as the cloudband and upper disturbance moved offshore. However, a weak surface low developed in the trough east of Sydney late morning, enhancing rain on the Central, Sydney and Illawarra coasts. Narara, just north of Gosford, registered 69.5mm in 3 hours to 7.30pm.


Friday 15 May 1998 Widespread rain in eastern Australia

Widespread rain in eastern Australia 29 Nov 98

Unusually widespread rain has been falling across most of Queensland and NSW today as a complex weather pattern unfolds across the two states. Moist southeast to northeast winds with several surface low pressure troughs are bringing substantial moisture into the area, whilst upper air conditions are generating a broad upsliding motion, producing a cloudband which early this morning covered most of the two states. Areas of heavy rain and some storms developed in this cloudband late yesterday, giving substantial falls on the Queensland north tropical coast and in the central southern inland. In the Ingham area, Gairloch recorded 140mm in the 24 hours to 9am, Dunk Island 135, Bemerside Ingham 123.2, Macknade Sugar Mill 121, Upper Stone 116.2, Halifax 113 and Ingham itself 103, of which 65 fell in a heavy thunderstorm between 3 and 9 last night. Inland, Barcaldine reported 63mm and Blackall 33 in the Central West, and Nive Downs in the Warrego 45. In NSW, falls of 10 to 25mm in the 24 hours to 9am were common along the central and northern slopes and plains, with Gilgandra recording 28mm, Condobolin 27 and Coonamble AP 23. Falls of a few to 15mm occurred in most districts of both NSW and Queensland.

During today, dry air moved into western Qld and NSW, but light to moderate rain continued to fall over much of the continent east of a line from about Townsville to west of Melbourne, with rain spreading to Victoria during the afternoon. The heaviest falls were in central and northern inland areas of NSW, with Coonamble AP reporting 36mm and Mudgee AP 21 between 9am and 6pm.


Thursday 14 May 1998 No reports of significant weather


Wednesday 13 May 1998 No reports of significant weather


Tuesday 12 May 1998 No reports of significant weather


Monday 11 May 1998 Widespread rain in WA; windy in Tas and Vic

Wheatgrowers welcome autumn rains in WA 29 Nov 98

Widespread rain fell over the weekend and continued today through most of the Western Australian wheatbelt, with especially good falls in the north. Many centres have recorded 50mm or more, which, with soil temperatures still warm after the recent hot spell, will give an excellent start to crops and pastures.

The heaviest falls in the 24 hours to 9 this morning were around 65 to 80mm in the Mingenew/Morawa area, about 100/200km southeast of Geraldton. Arena, Mingenew, topscored with 88.6, closely followed by 87.2 at Perenjori and 85.0 at Yandanooka. The rain developed as an upper trough with cooler upper air moved across the region, already covered by a broad low pressure surface trough. Offshore water temperatures are around 3C above average, and steady northwesterly winds ahead of the trough have brought good supplies of moisture into the south of the state. A surface low developed under the advancing upper trough, moving from near Carnarvon around midday yesterday to the southeast of the state late this evening. 52mm fell at Morawa in the 9 hours to 9am.

In the state's north, Onslow experienced a violent thunderstorm early this morning, with 58mm dumped on the town's post office between 3 and 6am. The automatic weather station at the airport recorded 17.4mm in 10 minutes to 3.24am.

Windy in Tasmania and Victoria

A deep low passing south of Tasmania brought strong to galeforce winds across the state and to coastal Victoria today. Winds at coastal and mountain stations averaged 35 to 45 knots. Some of the higher gusts recorded were 51 knots at Airey's Inlet about 4.30am, 62 at Wilsons Promintory during the late morning, 54 at Hobart City about 11.45am, 57 at Maatsuyker Island about 2.20am and again about 5.20am, and several gusts above 70 knots on the summit of Mt Wellington, the highest 74 knots at 11.30am.


Sunday 10 May 1998 No reports of significant weather


Saturday 9 May 1998 Good rain, temperature extremes in WA

Heat before, good rain after change in southwest WA 29 Nov 98

It was another extraordinarily hot night for May in most of the southern third of WA, with most minimum temperatures 8 to 12 degrees above normal. The greatest departures from normal were in the Great Southern, where Hyden recorded 19.6C, 12.4 above the May average, Narembeen 19.8 (+11.8) and Wandering 18.0 (+11.7). In the Goldfields, Cashmere Downs's minimum of 20.7 was 11.2 up on normal.

An active low pressure system passing just south of the state brought the best rain to the southwest since mid March with many locations recording 20 to 35mm. Boyup Brook topscored with 44mm, and other good falls were Midland 39, Kalamunda 37 and Perth Airport and Rocky Gully 34. The rain fell particularly heavily around Perth, with the City gauge registering 33mm between 4.30 and 9am, and Kalamunda in Perth's outer eastern suburbs recording 47mm in 9 hours to noon, 7.6 of that in just 10 minutes to 5am.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the state, Broome and surrounds had an abnormally cold start to the day with an overnight minimum at the Airport of 10.1C, 8.2 below average and just 1.5 above the coldest May night in 57 years of record.


Friday 8 May 1998 Victorian "tornado"; Cold in southeast; hot in the West

Possible tornado damages Wonthaggi, Vic 10 May 1998

Press reports indicate what could have been a tornado damaged about a dozen houses, uprooted trees and flattened fences in the Victorian town of Wonthaggi, on the coast about 80km southeast of Melbourne. The wind hit just before midday, and an eyewitness said clouds "were going around and around in circles and actually coming downwards". A trail of damage about a kilometre long was left by the wind. Damage was estimated to cost over $1m.

The weather station at Wonthaggi, which had reported a moderate thunderstorm with hail at 6am, recorded 27mm between 9am and 3pm. Apart from heavy showers at Cerberus, about 50km northwest of Wonthaggi on Mornington Peninsula, which yielded 16mm between 3 and 9am, no other significant weather or rainfall was reported in Victoria during the day. The event coincided with the passage of a deep upper trough attached to an upper low south of Tasmania. A cold pool was centred over Tasmania at the 9am upper air observations, with very cold, unstable air covering Tasmania, Bass Strait and coastal Victoria*. Thundery showers with hail and gale to storm force squalls are common in such a situation, but even allowing for Wonthaggi's coastal location, the amount of damage indicates some exceptional meteorological processes were at work.

[* Tech note: The cold pool, identified on the 1000/500hPa thickness chart, had a central thickness of 5290m, a fairly low figure for May. 850hPa temperature (i.e. about 5,000 feet) was minus 3 around Wonthaggi at 9am, and the MRF analysis indicated a tot-tots instability index there of about 55. As a rough rule of thumb, a tot-tots index over 50 indicates potential for severe storms, and over 55 indicates potential for tornado development.]

Gales and snow in Tasmania, heatwave in the West

Tasmania enjoyed a taste of winter today as snowfalls descended to about the 500 metre level and gales swept coastal and highland areas. Highland snowfalls were light due to lack of moisture rather than lack of cold -- the midday temperature atop Mt Wellington behind Hobart was minus 1.1 whilst later in the day, wind gusts were recorded to 44 knots. Light snow was also reported from the Victorian Alps and the Snowy Mountains in NSW.

In Western Australia, both night and day temperatures were 6 to 12 degrees above the May average over much of the central western and southwestern parts of the state today. Perth Airport recorded a maximum of 32C, 10.5 above normal, after a morning minimum of 19, 9 above. Perth has had 3 days of 30 degree or above heat so far in May, compared to an average for the whole of May of 1 in 3 years.


Thursday 7 May 1998 Qld floods

Queensland floods continue

On the Dawson River, a second flood peak of 4.72m passed Taroom early this morning causing moderate flooding. The first peak has now passed Moura. The Burnett River peaked near 10m at Walla last night, and is now near its peak at Bundaberg at 2.0m


Wednesday 6 May 1998 Qld floods, NSW rain, Vic and SA fogs

Queensland flood situation report

Minor to moderate flooding continued in many southern and central eastern streams today. In the Burnett system, the main floodwaters have now left the major tributaries of the Auburn and Boyne Rivers and Barambah Creek and entered the Burnett, which peaked at Mundubbera at 10.20 metres last night causing moderate flooding. The main floodwaters are now downstream of Mt Lawless. The Dawson River peaked at Taroom at 4.30 metres last night causing moderate flooding, whilst Mimosa Creek further downstream is adding a heavy flow after peaking at Karamea at 7.65m at 9am, and is expected to produce close to major flooding in the lower Dawson. On the Condamine, rain over the past few days is causing minor flooding downstream of Loudoun Bridge, with the main floodwaters now approaching the Chinchilla area. The Paroo is experiencing renewed rises from the rain earlier this week, with a small second peak of 1.68m passing Hungerford yesterday with moderate flooding. The Bulloo at Thargomindah has fallen to minor flood level.

Good rain on NSW South Coast as east coast low passes 29 Nov 98

A dramatically intensifying low moving south parallel to the NSW South Coast brought brief heavy rain yesterday and overnight. The low "bombed" from around 998hPa at 9 last night to around 980 hPa at 3 this afternoon, by which time it was about 400km east of Gabo Island, off the continent's southeastern tip, and moving south. The low produced gales along the coast, with Montague Island reporting peak gusts around 50 knots last night. 25 to 50mm of rain fell on the Illawarra and South Coast and nearby areas, with Gerringong topscoring on 101.2mm. Other good falls in the 24 hours to 9am were 98.8 at Tamol Wattamolla, 88.2 at Pearsons Lane Robertson, 86.6 at Torokina Moss Vale, and 86.0 at the Robertson Pie Shop.

Fogs widespread in Vic and SA

With the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness upon us, fog has been a rare event so far. But over the past three mornings, fogs have been increasingly widespread in southeastern SA and western Victoria. This morning saw the western half of Victoria and much of South Australia south from the Murray enveloped in particularly thick fog which persisted in many parts of Victoria's Mallee, Wimmera and Western Districts until late morning.


Tuesday 5 May 1998 Heavy rain in Qld and NSW

Flooding intensifies in the Burnett as rain brings joy to Qld farmers

6 May 98, 28 Sept 98

Further heavy rain was reported in the Burnett River catchment, 200km northwest of Brisbane, overnight before easing off this morning. Falls in catchment in the 24 hours to 9am included Coonambula, 20km SW of Eidsvold, 148.0mm, Rockybar, 20km SE of Cracow, 119.0, Glenwood 102.8, Dunollie 75.6 and Mundubbera 71.0. Mundubbera has recorded 198mm in the past 3 days in an area where the average May rainfall is about 40mm, and only exceeds 100mm for the month one year in 10. The Auburn River at Glenwood peaked at 9.60m at midday, bringing moderate to major flooding, and one of the highest floods since May 1983. In the Boyne River, which joins the Auburn near Mundubbera to become the Burnett, water levels at Dunollie above the Boondooma Dam were said to be the highest for 20 years, bringing moderate to major flooding.

The rain band gradually cleared southeast Queensland during the day after giving further heavy falls. Thunderstorms during the early morning hours gave some intense falls along the coast -- Bowen AP recorded 99mm and St Lawrence 65mm in the 6 hours to 3am, Gladstone AP had 45mm in 3 hours to 6am, and Brisbane AP received 42 and Archerfield 46mm in the 3 hours to 3am. Dozens of locations in the southeast and central east of the state reported 60 to 80mm for the 24 hour period to 9am, and the heaviest included Brigalow Research Station near Moura 122.4mm, Bargara, on the coast just east of Bundaberg, 121, Sandgate 119.2, Bowen Qld Salt 116.4, Hervey Bay 112, Rainbow Beach 108, Bowen AP 102.2 and Lady Elliot Island 100. In the 5 days since the beginning of the month, Lady Elliot Island has recorded 267mm -- mean monthly rainfall for May is 116.5mm. With crop planting due to begin when fields dry out, the soaking rain should add tens of millions of dollars to winter crops, although some late cotton harvests have been caught out by the weather.

Good rain falls over most of NSW 6 May 98

Soaking rain spread to much of NSW today as an upper trough thickened rainbearing cloud over the inland before intensifying the small Low that has lain off the NSW Central Coast since 3 May. In the 24 hours to 9am, 25 to 60mm fell in the state's north and northwest, with some heavier falls about the Central and Hunter Coasts near the developing low. Newcastle's Nobbys Signal Station topscored with 96.6mm, followed by Williamtown RAAF 79, Peats Ridge 71.2 and Wyong 65. In the northwest, Wanaaring received 61mm, whilst in the north Burren Junction recorded 58 and Ashford 49. On the North Coast Woodburn gauged 64mm, Evans Head 51 and Alstonville 52, whilst in the Sydney area Belrose topscored with 57mm.

During the day, there were few parts of the state that remained dry, with the majority of reporting stations recording at least 5mm. Heavier falls between 9am to 3pm were widely scattered, and included 31mm at Dunedoo, 29 at Murrurundi, 26 at Scone, 24 at Katoomba and Merimbula and 21 at Sydney City. During the afternoon, the low off the Central Coast intensified suddenly, with its central pressure dropping from around 1011hPa at 9am to 998 at 9pm. This quickly spread gales down the coast as the pressure gradient tightened, with Norah Head reporting a mean speed of 35 knots by 3pm, and Jervis Bay and Montague Island a mean of 35 knots and gusts to 45 knots by 6pm. By late this evening, Montague Island was reporting gusts to 50 knots, and Lord Howe Island mean winds of 37 knots with gusts to 48. Between 3pm and 9pm, Norah Head received 40mm, Katoomba 21, Bellambi 33 and Moruya 31 as rain contracted to the southeast, though cloud and light rain or drizzle lingered over the much of the rest of the state.

In the five days since the start of the month, Williamtown has recorded 224mm, Wyong 219.2, Newcastle Nobbys 187.2, Gosford 161.2, and Port Macquarie AP 154.


Monday 4 May 1998 Queensland floods; heavy falls in Qld/NSW; heat in WA

Southwest Qld flood levels fall as the Burnett rises 28 Sept 98

The first food and medical supplies to reach the floodbound town of Thargomindah by road arrived on Saturday morning, 2 May. Both the Bulloo River, which flows past the town, and the Paroo River to its east have been in moderate flood, isolating the town by road for the previous ten days. Both of the southwest Queensland rivers are now falling very slowly, though water is still nearly one meter above road level at Thargomindah. On the Paroo, the flood crest has moved into NSW where it passed Wanaaring with a moderate flood level peak of 3.50m yesterday.

Isolated rainfall totals of up to 150mm were reported in the Mundubbera area in the Burnett River basin, about 200km northwest of Brisbane, in the 24 hours to 9 this morning. Strathdee station recorded 152.4mm and Glenrock 98.2, whilst Mundubbera itself recorded 73mm, with 146mm falling over the past 3 days. The Burnett rose sharply overnight, peaking at 6.5m at Mundubbera at 6am, just below minor flood level, and minor flooding is now expected downstream. The Burnett flows to sea near Bundaberg.

Further heavy rain in central southern Qld and coastal NSW 28 Sept 98

A large cloud mass developed today over central southern Queensland and far northern NSW as a surface trough developed over the region in response to cooler air moving in aloft, and an approaching, intensifying upper trough. A heavy thunderstorm with hail gave Isisford in the Central West of Queensland 35mm before 9am, whilst a storm with strong wind gusts and spectacular lightning and thunder over a couple of hours gave the border town of Goondiwindi 33mm at the same time. Further storms developed in the afternoon, and spread south into NSW. Blackall received 36mm in a storm around midday, Roma had 22mm late afternoon, Mungindi reported 19mm between 9am and 3pm, and Glen Innes AP recorded 31mm, falling fairly steadily between 9am and 3pm. Lady Elliot Island, off the Queensland Curtis Coast, received 58mm in the same time, with 36.4mm falling between 12.05 and 12.55pm. Dubbo Airport reported 10.8mm in the 20 minutes to 12.25 from a storm.

Meanwhile, the NSW Mid North and Hunter Coasts have continued to receive good but variable rain. The surface trough which passed out to sea fairly dramatically on 2 May spawned a small, virtually stationary low pressure circulation east of the Hunter coast yesterday. Falls in the area for the 24 hours to 9 this morning were around 10 to 25mm, with Williamtown RAAF Base recording 37mm to 9am, and a further 35mm to 5pm. Smiths Lake, south of Forster, however, recorded 96.0mm for the 24 hours.

Unseasonable heat in WA 28 Sept 98

Very warm northeasterly winds, blowing round the northern side of the same strong High near Tasmania that is bringing rain to eastern Australia, pushed temperatures well above normal across most of WA yesterday and today. Most centres reported top temperatures 6 to 12C above the May average on both days, with a very warm night in between. Only the southern coastal fringe escaped the unseasonable warmth. Mardie, on the Pilbara coast, has broken the old century on the last 3 days with tops of 38.7, 38.5 and 38.7. The greatest departures from normal daytime temperatures were in the Central West and Great Southern today, most centres reporting maxima 10 to 12 above normal. Northam, Carnamah, Morawa, Wongan Hill, Northam, York and Cunderdin all reported top temperatures of 33 to 35, 12 above. Perth Airport reported 31 yesterday and 30 today -- the average is 21C. Last night saw minimum temperatures generally 5 to 8 above normal.


Saturday 2 May 1998 East coast rain

Some heavy rain as east coast trough develops 28 Sept 98

Widespread but variable rain fell late yesterday and today over much of the east coast, ranges and hinterland from around Cairns to the Victorian border, with patchy heavy falls occasionally accompanied by thunderstorms. The situation producing this is complex, with an intensifying High west of Tasmania which had strengthened to 1039hPa late today, and a trough lying from tropical Queensland to southeastern NSW which moved east to cross parts of the coast today, deepening in response to an upper jet stream entrance. The upper charts have shown considerable uplift over southeast Queensland and the NSW Central and Mid-North Coasts, which were the areas to report the heaviest rain during the day. A weak upper trough with cooler air aloft also passed across the region, intensifying instability, whilst there is an abundant supply of moisture in the lower atmosphere over the whole region.

There were some heavy shower and thunderstorm falls in southeast Queensland last night, with Lady Elliot Island, about 100km northeast of Bundaberg, recording 117mm between 3 and 9pm, 102.2mm falling in 4 hours to 8pm. During today, sporadic heavy falls occurred along most of the Queensland coast, spreading inland in the southeast as far as Roma. Dalby reported 45mm between 9am and 3pm.

In NSW, torrential local rain fell with thunderstorms in the Hastings Valley around Port Macquarie late afternoon and evening causing flash flooding. The automatic weather station at Port Macquarie Airport reported 128.4mm between 2.50pm and 9.00pm, with 75mm falling in 70 minutes between 4.05pm and 5.15pm. Nearly 34mm fell in 20 minutes just before 5pm, and winds gusted to 38 knots just before 4pm. Unconfirmed reports indicate that Green Valley on the Maria River recorded just over 200mm between 2.30 and 8.30pm, with 87mm falling in one hour to 4.45pm, whilst Nabiac recorded 108mm between 9.15am and 3.15pm. Totals for the 24 hours to 9am Sunday included 165mm at Hill Street Port Macquarie, 149.0 at Port Macquarie Airport, and 114.8 at Krambach.

Further south, falls of 25 to 50 or 60mm were common on the mid north coast and lower Hunter Valley during the day. In the 48 hours to 9am on Sunday 3 May, Nelson Bay recorded 180.0mm, Salamander Bay 167.5, Wyong 134mm, Williamtown RAAF Base 108 and Taree 105. There were some isolated heavy falls in the Central West, too, with Peak Hill reporting 45mm between 9am and 3pm today, and Parkes Airport 35mm between noon and 6pm, of which 9.4mm fell in the 10 minutes to 3pm.