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Monday 21 February 2000

Today's weather extremes

Record rain in western NSW and Vic, southern SA
Flooding in Qld, NSW, SA

Highest rainfall, 24 hours to 9am

145.0 Pooncarie NSW
141.7 Hamilton Is Qld
138.8 Birricannia Tangorin Qld
129.6 Werrimull Vic

Other heavy inland falls:
128.0 Eastmere Barcaldine Qld
100.8 Menindee PO NSW
97.4 Wilcannia NSW
95.8 Burtundy NSW
94.8 Patton Street Broken Hill NSW
93.0 Karoola Pooncarie NSW
92.8 Willow Point Wentworth NSW
85.4 Walpeup PO Vic
85.0 Walpeup Research Vic
82.2 White Cliffs PO NSW
79.0 Koonaburra (80km N of Ivanhoe) NSW
77.0 Red Cliffs PO Vic
75.0 Kerribee Paringi NSW

Like cake-mix in a Mixmaster, moist air converges between a deep low over SW NSW and a cradling high west of Tasmania to produce record rainfall. This surface synoptic charts is for 8am EDST today.

February daily rainfall records were broken over a wide area of western NSW and Victoria, and nearby parts of SA today. A slow moving trough fed copious amounts of moisture into the area and colder air aloft gave plenty of instability to produce widespread uplift.

24 hour totals of 50 to 150mm were recorded to 9am across thousands of square kilometres of western NSW, northwest Victoria and in a band from southwest Queensland to the Central Qld Coast. Pooncarie NSW, 100km NE of Mildura, recorded 145mm, its heaviest day's rain in a record stretching back to 1882, while Werrimull Vic, 40km WSW of Mildura also had an all-time record with 129.6mm. Pooncarie's gauging beats the previous daily rainfall record of 101.4, set on 14 March 1989, by a substantial margin, while the Werrimull figure is the third-highest total ever recorded in the Mallee district. Many other locations broke their February daily rainfall records, a selection of which is given at left. A press report stated that Lethro Station, between Mildura and Pooncarie, recorded 9 inches (225mm), though the period during which it fell was not stated.

Water vapour animation from 11am yesterday to 8am EDST today at 3-hourly intervals. Note the explosive development over NW NSW and SW Qld between the third and fifth images (5pm to 11pm), and the rapid westward movement towards Adelaide of cloud in the last frame (8am) as it wraps around the low in a strengthening easterly pressure gradient.

At Broken Hill in western NSW, heavy rain began falling mid-afternoon yesterday, with one downpour producing 23mm in 42 minutes to 5pm. Rain then fell heavily through much of the night. Flash flooding washed a bus off the Barrier Highway 48km east of the city with 1.5m-deep water over the road. Its driver and 8 passengers had to be rescued by boat through the front window of the bus.

In the Sunraysia area surrounding Mildura Vic, streets, houses and businesses were flooded. The heavy rain has reduced the value of grape crops, and will delay harvesting in soggy fields. 

Highest & Lowest Temps

Maximum Minimum
39.1 Morawa WA 28.9 Centre Is NT
12.9 Lake Leake Tas
12.9 Mt Wellington Tas
2.8 Mt Wellington Tas

Greatest variations from normal

Maximum Minimum
33.0 Warrnambool AP Vic
21.7 Meningie SA
20.9 Balranald NSW

22.4 Lake Cargelligo NSW
21.6 Hillston AP NSW
13.6 Casino AP NSW
Other extreme readings
Flood peaks:
Haughton River Qld: at Mt Piccaninny 3.18m at 5am, at Powerline about 5m at 8am, and at Giru 2.20m at midday with moderate flooding.
Records set this day
Heaviest 24 hour rainfall:
Pooncarie NSW:
145.0mm, breaking previous record of 101.4 in 118 years of record

Heaviest February 24 hour rainfall:
Neptune Island SA:
43mm, breaking previous record of 35.3 in 35 years of record
Caliph SA: 44.0mm, breaking previous record of 40.4 in 27 years of record
Broken Hill Patton Street NSW: 94.8mm, breaking previous record of 67.3 in 106 years of record
Menindee PO NSW: 100.8mm, breaking previous record of 68.6 in 120 years of record
Mildura AP Vic: 59.0mm, breaking previous record of 56.9 in 55 years of record
Walpeup Research Vic: 85.0mm breaking previous record of 72.6 in 63 years of record

During the early morning hours, a high pressure system ridged over Tasmania from the Bight at the same time as the low over SW NSW deepened slightly to about 997hPa. This strengthened the pressure gradient over western Victoria, SE SA and northern Tasmania, producing strong to gale force east to southeast winds along with further heavy rain as cloud wrapped around the low. Flash flooding was reported in the Adelaide Hills during the early morning, and winds gusted to 61km/h at the Bureau of Meteorology's Kent Town site in Adelaide. By late afternoon, Yanac, 40km NW of Nhill in western Victoria, was reporting 93km/h wind gusts, and sustained galeforce winds were being reported from Cape Grim in NW Tasmania, South Channel Island in Port Phillip, and along the Gippsland coast.

In Queensland there were once again heavy falls in the central west. Birricannia Station, 170km NE of waterlogged Winton, reported 138.8mm for the 24 hours to 9am, and Eastmere Station, 130km farther east, recorded 128. Moderate flooding was starting in the Thompson and Landsborough Rivers, and minor to moderate flooding on the Alice River at Barcaldine. Heavy rain in the hills behind Townsville created moderate flooding in the Haughton River during the morning, and a further cloudburst at Mingela in the headwaters, during which 75mm fell in just under two hours to 7.20pm, created renewed flows.

Above: The surface pressure and rainfall pattern from 11am Sunday to 11am Tuesday in 12-hour steps (0000 UTC 20/02/2000 to 0000 UTC 22/02/2000).
Below: Humidity, wind and temperature at 850hPa, or about 5,000 feet for the same time period. Note the converging northerly winds drawing moisture down from the north ahead of the trough, and the area of cooler air moving across western Victoria during this morning, reflecting the cut-off cold air pool above.