Seasonal heavy monsoon falls were recorded in Far North QLD today; reports are in wettest and downpours.
WA: Fires cause evacuations in SE Perth
Fickle winds and high temperatures in Perth gave firefighters problems today with the bushfires reported yesterday. Good progress was made last night towards containing the fires threatening the hamlets of Pickering Brook and Karragullen, 35km SE of Perth. However, freshening northeasterly winds which gusted to 52km/h at Perth Airport early this morning caused the fire to jump the Brookton Highway and move into another area of state forest, the firefront moving 4km in only 45 minutes at one point.
During the day, over 200 firefighters, 12 waterbombing aircraft and 20 bulldozers fought the blaze. Over 5000ha of forest had been burnt by day's end, and one home at Pickering Brook suffered minor damage. Despite a top temperature at Perth Airport of 40°, another favourable wind change this afternoon again eased the situation slightly, but winds again picked up this evening forcing the evacuation of three streets in Pickering Brook as flames moved towards the town.
Other fires broke out late this afternoon in Helena Valley, 15km E of the Perth CBD, and in the Kalamunda and John Forrest National Parks and the eastern hills district. Residents of Helena Valley and Boya to its northeast were evacuated as fire swept through Greenmount National Park nearby.
QLD, NSW: Storms
A line of thunderstorms developed from the Hunter northwest to about Walgett early this morning, moving to the Mid North Coast mid morning, the North Coast mid afternoon and into SE QLD late afternoon. Heavy rain, considerable electrical activity and some strong wind gusts were the main features of the storm band, which formed to the SW of a slow-moving trough.
Mount Seaview, 50km W of Port Macquarie, recorded 127.4mm for the 24 hours to 9am from a storm late yesterday afternoon but mostly from this storm system. Bretti-Mackay, about 50km SW of Mount Seaview, recorded 117.8 and there were numerous 24-hour totals between 50 and 80mm on the Mid North Coast and in the northern Hunter (see Wettest below). Rain that fell after 9am gave some heavy falls in the 24 hours to 9am Tuesday, including 65mm at Beaudesert QLD and 53.6 at Inverell NSW. Significant downpours in NSW included 29.6mm in 35 minutes at Taree, 30.4mm in 36 minutes at Port Macquarie, 61mm in 3 hours (including 18mm in 10 minutes) at Kempsey and 69mm in 3 hours at Smoky Cape. In QLD, Jimna Forestry recorded 23.8mm in just 12 minutes, Gympie 12.6 in 10 minutes, Kingaroy 14.2 in 12 minutes and Warwick 9.8 in 8 minutes. Heavy rain dislodged two boulders onto the Cunningham Highway SW of Brisbane. Wind gusted to 104km/h at Oakey QLD and 102km/h at Byron Bay NSW, but was not a significant feature of this event.
Lightning strikes caused widespread blackouts in QLD, with around 22,000 properties without power in Kingaroy, Nanango, Gayndah, Murgon, Mundubbera, Eidsvold, Proston, Wondai, Gunalda, Widgee and Yarraman from 2pm. Wind accompanied by hail caused at least $100,000 damage to lettuce crops in the Stanthorpe area.
QLD, NT: Dust
Dust carried from SA by a southerly change reduced visibility through much of western QLD and southern NT this morning. Synoptic reports from Mt Isa and Winton gave visibility as low as 5km, but a Bureau forecaster told ABC radio visibility had been as low as 100m at some places in western QLD overnight.
NSW: Cold night and day
A cool, dry airmass pushing into NW NSW, NE SA and SW QLD set some new record low minimum temperatures this morning. White Cliffs and Wilcannia both recorded their lowest January minima in nearly half a century of computerised records: 12.1 at White Cliffs and 9.2 at Wilcannia. Birdsville's low of 14.8 was 9.4 below the norm.
The cool airstream coupled with persistent cloud cover also kept daytime temperatures well below average on the Central Tablelands and in parts of the Hunter Valley. At Katoomba, the mercury only reached 12.1, 11.0 below average, while Jerry's Plains in the Hunter, often a summer hotspot, was 12.6 below average on 19.2.