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Wednesday 27 December 2000

Record December rain in Qld Gulf Country
Severe thunderstorm in Tamworth NSW
Heatwave continues in WA, snow in Tasmania
Above: Rainfall totals for the week ended 9am Thursday 28 December peaked at 351.2mm at Burketown, with 318.1 at Redbank Mine, 296.2 at Lawn Hill Gorge NP and 294.2mm at Herbert Vale close behind.

Below: Maximum temperature departures from normal today show unusually cold conditions under cloud in northwestern Queensland while the heatwave continues in Western Australia's southwest.  BoM

A low pressure system of around 998hPa which has been moving slowly east across the Northern Territory in the monsoon trough arrived in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria early this morning bringing a day of torrential rain to nearby coastal areas. The low extended up through the atmosphere to about 20,000 feet, drawing moist air in from the north, while cooler than normal conditions aloft combined with a convergent airstream to produce the copious rain. Burketown Post Office recorded 317.6mm in the 48 hours to 9am Thursday, 238 of which fell between 9pm yesterday and 9pm tonight. Other heavy falls are shown in the rainfall boxes below and for Thursday 28 December.

Abnormally heavy early wet season falls have been recorded since early December in a band across the Barkly Tablelands in the Northern Territory, through Camooweal and across to Burketown in Queensland. Burketown's December total to 9am Thursday 28 December is 907.2mm compared to the town's previous record December monthly total in 110 years of 534mm. Burketown's average for December is 112mm, and their average annual rainfall is 767mm. Other heavy cumulative totals for the month to 9am 28 December are 761.8 at Lawn Hill Gorge National Park, 150km SW of Burketown, 611.8 at Redbank Mine, 200km WNW of Burketown in the Northern Territory, and 580.2 at Centre Island NT. The heavy rain has isolated many properties on the Barkly Tablelands, with 1 to 2 metres of water over roads and the Playford River, which drains into wetlands 200km ENE of Tennant Creek, said to be the highest in local memory. Major flooding is expected to develop over the weekend in the lower reaches of the Nicholson River at Escott Lodge and the Albert River at Burketown, as river levels rise to major flood levels upstream at Lawn Hill Gorge, Doomadgee and Gregory Downs. Moderate flooding continues in the Leichhardt River at Floraville and minor flooding in the Flinders Rivers at Walkers Bend.

A severe thunderstorm swept through Tamworth NSW shortly before 4pm today, bringing flash flooding, hail and strong winds. Press reports of 50mm falling in around 30 minutes are credible, given that businesses in Peel Street, the city's main thoroughfare, as well as some in nearby streets were inundated. These included Coles, Grace Brothers, and the Post Office, while the Regent Cinema was evacuated when water leaked through the roof. Police reported that passing traffic created waves of water that entered CBD buildings, including Tamworth Arcade. Strong winds brought down trees and branches, downing some power lines and closing a few roads, while the Explorer train to Sydney was delayed while debris was removed from the line. Lightning caused a grass fire on the Manilla Road to the northwest of the city, and struck a home, bringing down powerlines.

Weather extremes continued across the continent today, with SW Western Australia's heatwave entering its fourth day, very low daytime temperatures in western Queensland and further wintry weather in Tasmania. In Western Australia, the thermometer reached 45.2 at Eneabba and between 12 and 15 above normal down most of the coast south of Carnarvon. Perth recorded a top of 40.3 after maximum temperatures over the past 3 days of 34.8, 37.6 and 38.3 gave the city its hottest Christmas day in 32 years and its second hottest Boxing day on record. By comparison, heavy cloud cover kept daytime temperatures across western Queensland 12 to 15 below normal and close to winter levels. A cold pool moving across Tasmania overnight brought further strong winds and highland snow, with Liawenee on the western shore of Great Lake reporting 3cm snow on the ground at 9 this morning.

Today's highest rainfall totals for the 24 hours to 9am

163.2 Burketown PO Qld
152.5 Redbank Mine NT
84.7 Wollogorang NT
74.0 Centre Island NT
74.0 Mallapunyah McArthur NT

Other heavy falls in western Qld, eastern NT:
73.0 Lawn Hill Station Qld
50.8 Benmara NT
48.8 Nardoo Station Burketown
46.0 Warrego Mine NT

Further heavy falls in western Tasmania:
43.2 Derwent Bridge
38.2 Strathgordon Village

High falls for other periods:

Northern Territory:
77mm in 9h to 9am
Lawn Hill Gorge NP: 170.4mm in 48h to 9am
Burketown PO: 238mm in 24h to 9pm

Today's highest & lowest temps

Wind (mean refers to the average windspeed over 10 minutes; gust is the highest speed recorded):

Wilsons Prom Vic: Mean wind of 91km/h at 9.06am
Cape Grim Tas: Gusts to 96km/h at 3am

Other extremes

Flood peaks:
Cooper Creek at Windorah Qld:
5.23m at 6am with major flooding

Records set this day

Highest maximum temperature for December (previous record and years of computerised record shown in brackets):
Windy Harbour WA: 36.2 (35.0, 12)

Maximum Minimum
45.2 Eneabba PO WA
44.0 Murchison WA
44.0 Geraldton AP WA
28.1 Black Point NT
1.0 Mt Baw Baw Vic -2.5 Mt Wellington Tas

Greatest variations from normal

Maximum Minimum
44.0 Geraldton AP WA
36.2 Windy Harbour WA
37.0 Pemberton WA
26.0 Pearce AP WA
25.5 Lancelin WA
23.0 Winton PO Qld
23.0 Longreach AP Qld
24.0 Camooweal PO Qld
13.5 Yuendumu NT

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