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Sunday 20 February 2000

Today's weather extremes

Storms, heavy rain in SE SA, western NSW and Vic
Rain, floods continue in inland Australia
Waterspouts off WA Pilbara coast

Highest rainfall, 24 hours to 9am

117.0 Newman AP WA
112.2 Birricannia Tangorin Qld
104.0 Connellan AP Yulara NT
101.8 Muttaburra Qld

Other high falls in WA:
95.0 Wittenoom
86.6 Bulloo Downs Newman
82.4 Mt Vernon

Other high falls in Qld:
95.6 Richmond Hills Aramac
88.5 Burdekin Falls Dam
83.6 Glendhu Mt Garnet

High falls in SA:
72.0 Loxton Research
70.0 Peebinga
65.4 Cadney Park (Copper Hill, about 130km N of Coober Pedy) SA
65.0 Mt Remarkable NP Mambray Creek SA
61.4 Hawker SA
53.0 Cleve SA

Above: Surface synoptic situation at 1pm EST

Left: Rainfall in the 24 hours to 9 this morning

Click on image to enlarge

High moisture levels through much of inland Australia continued to produce heavy rain and storms in the WA Pilbara, Central Australia and inland Qld, with heavy falls spreading into eastern SA and western NSW and Vic today. The rain through central northern Australia continues to be produced by areas of convergence into the monsoonal trough, but the incursion of heavy falls into SA this morning and later today into western NSW and Vic were due to a frontal trough system which developed over eastern SA as a slow-moving upper feature moved into the area.

The situation at 500hPa, or about 18,000 feet, is shown at right for the period from 11pm EST Saturday to 11am Tuesday in 12-hour intervals. The white lines show the upper trough, and the green lines the temperature. The red/orange area shows relative vorticity, or the spin being imparted to the air by the trough. The upmotion generated by this middle-level trough caused pressures to fall around the SA/ Vic/ NSW border area during the day, and convergence of unusually moist air into the low triggered exceptionally widespread, heavy falls. The slow movement of the system extended the heavy falls over several days until the upper support decayed.

During the morning, an area of heavy rain with a few embedded thunderstorms gave falls of 25 to 70mm to Adelaide, the Murray Valley, Central North and northwest towards Oodnadatta. From the Flinders Ranges to around Oodnadatta this fell on already sodden ground and again closed roads in the area. Over two metres of floodwater covered some roads in the Hawker/ Leigh Creek/ Wilpena Pound area. Hawker recorded 57mm between 3pm yesterday and 6 this morning, while Yunta, 130km SE, recorded 43mm in 6 hours to 9am. Heavy rain fell in Adelaide around midnight, with 34mm recorded at the airport between 9pm and 3am, but intensified farther east in the Murray Valley, where Loxton recorded 69mm and Renmark PO 34mm in 3 hours to 9am, and Mildura 35mm in 3 hours to midday. By late afternoon, heavy rain was falling the length of the NSW/ Vic/ SA border country with widespread storms activity. (see news for 21/2/00)

Remarkable rainfall continued across the continent from the WA Pilbara (see news for 19/2/00) to central western Qld. Storms, which dumped 104mm on Yulara NT between 3 and 9am, with 84.6mm falling in just two hours to 6.30am, must have made Uluru an impressive sight at dawn. Heavy falls were recorded farther east in the Finke River basin, closing the Stuart Highway south of Alice Springs again, with 1.5m of water reported over the road. Meanwhile, widespread falls between 50 and 100mm were recorded through Queensland's Central West, where between 150 and 400mm has fallen over the past week and minor to moderate flooding is occurring in the Diamantina and Georgina Rivers. 

Monsoonal squall lines off the Pilbara Coast in northwestern WA produced the rare spectacle of 7 funnel clouds or waterspouts in succession today. They were observed mid-afternoon from Point Sampson, 35km east of Karratha, and at one point three funnels and one waterspout (i.e. touching the ocean) were visible simultaneously.

Highest & Lowest Temps

Maximum Minimum
40.5 Mullewa WA 28.9 Gascoyne Jn WA
13.1 Mt Wellington Tas 4.0 Armidale Uni NSW

Greatest variations from normal

Maximum Minimum
30.0 Wynyard AP Tas
26.5 Balranald NSW
25.2 Echuca AP Vic
25.0 Wittenoom WA
27.8 Marble Bar WA
23.4 Kulgera NT
12.0 Amberley AP Qld
Other extreme readings
Giles WA: 38mm in 3hrs to 2am
Yulara NT: 59.6mm in 1hr to 5.30am
Alice Springs AP NT: 25mm in 3hrs to 6pm
Curtain Springs NT: 46mm in 6hrs to 9am
Lameroo SA: 31mm in 9hrs to 6am
Wilcannia NSW: 27mm in 3hrs to 6pm
Broken Hill NSW: 23mm in 42mins to 5pm

Wind gust:
Mt Wellington Tas: 111km/h at 2.30am

Flood peak:
Paroo River at Caiwarro Qld: 1.64m at 9pm with minor flooding.

Records set this day