|Rainfall for the 24 hours to 9am Tuesday from the flood rainfall network, most of which fell during today.
Above: Central Western NSW
Below: Southern NSW and NE VIC
NSW, VIC: Storms and record rain bring floods, evacuations and widespread damage
The trough that gave Broken Hill its worst thunderstorm in decades yesterday moved into northern VIC and southern and central NSW today bringing main river and flash flooding and extensive severe thunderstorms. Yesterday's line of thunderstorms died out in the Hillston area around dawn at the same time as a second line formed from about Tibooburra to Mildura. Severe thunderstorms developed rapidly along this line, marked as a cold front on the surface charts above, and moved SE during the day. An area of rain developed in strong uplift ahead of the storm line, giving several hours of moderate to torrential rain in advance of the thunderstorms. Record November rain in Central Western NSW produced moderate to major main river flooding, while storms in southern NSW and northern VIC led to flash flooding and lightning and hail damage.
See Downpours below for details of heavy short-duration rainfalls, and Wettest for Tuesday for all 24-hour rainfall totals exceeding 50mm during the period. Charts and show the distribution of rainfall gaugings.
Northern and NW VIC
Very heavy rain fell along the Murray Valley during the late morning and early afternoon as the storms and rainband passed. Kerang recorded 50.0mm between 9am and 3pm. Farmers in the Wimmera expect to lose millions of dollars worth of hay cut during the past three weeks as it rots on the ground.
The storms moved into NE VIC during the late afternoon and early evening. Heavy falls included Kyabram 45.0mm 3pm to 6pm and Shepparton 15.6mm in 30 minutes to 6pm. North East SES was called out to over 80 jobs in Albury/Wodonga, Chiltern, Corowa, Howlong, Kyabram, Shepparton, Rutherglen, Beechworth, Wangaratta and Benalla from about 4.30pm. About 50 homes and businesses received some flood damage. Lightning took out many telephone services in Shepparton, Benalla, Myrhee and Buffalo River and mobile networks at Mt Hotham and Euroa.
Very heavy rain fell in the Rutherglen/Chiltern area, with Rutherglen recording 37.4mm between 8 and 9pm and Chiltern totalling 73.4mm for the 24 hours to 9am Tuesday. Fifteen properties were threatened with flooding in Chiltern, where several families were evacuated as their homes were sandbagged. There was water over the Hume Highway and large pavement failures developed on the Wahgunyah to Springhurst Road farther west. In Indigo Shire, two timber bridges were washed out and infrastructure damage is likely to exceed $500,000.
Severe hail damage was reported to orchards to the east and north of Shepparton. Masalki Pty Ltd, an export fruit grower, had fruit in 8 of their 10 orchards damaged, with one totally destroyed. Owner Sam Damianopoulos said the hail storm lasted up to 4.5 minutes at some orchards, with hail blowing horizontally. It was the worst he had seen in 43 years on the property. Kreskas Brothers at Lemnos, just east of Shepparton, said about 75% of their crop was ruined.
Minor main river flooding occurred in the Kiewa (peak about 3.3m Wednesday afternoon with minor flooding) and the Mitta Mitta above Dartmouth Dam (peak about 1.8m at Hinnomunjie with minor flooding).
NSW Riverina and SW Slopes
Storms and rain moved across the Riverina during the afternoon and onto the Slopes mid-evening. Balranald recorded 32.0mm between 9am and 3pm, and Wyalong Post Office recorded its wettest November day in 95 years with a total of 67.2mm, all falling between 3pm and 10pm today. Griffith Airport's 41.0mm to 9am Tuesday was 4.7mm shy of its 36-year record. Farther east Wagga recorded 13.2mm in 15 minutes to 5pm and Albury Airport 22mm in 3 hours to 9pm. Gundagai's total to 9am Tuesday was 74.0mm. Cootamundra was blacked out for an hour from 8 to 9pm, though some outlying districts did not have power restored until late Wednesday. Wagga SES reported 40 callouts, with 6 houses evacuated and 34 affected by flooding.
Central Western NSW
Torrential rain fell in the Central West between about 9pm today and 3am Tuesday producing some of the highest daily rainfall totals for November on record. The heaviest falls were in an arc from around West Wyalong through Forbes and Parkes to Hill End/Bathurst/Oberon. Flooding developed in the Belubula River affecting Canowindra, Mandagery Creek affecting Eugowra, the Macquarie River affecting Bathurst and the Bell River affecting Wellington.
There were fears of a record flood at Eugowra leading to calls to evacuate the town. Homes and shops in Molong were flooded. The Parkes, Forbes, Lachla, Wellington and Cabonne Shires in the Central West were declared a natural disaster area to trigger assistance for residents, business owners and councils whose property was damaged. SES spokesman Phil Campbell told the Daily Telegraph "We've had reports from various towns of streets being rivers, properties with water coming in, lots of leaking roofs, blocked drains and gutters and rising waters. The SES have been going out and putting tarpaulins on roofs to try to stop damage."
The Department of Primary Industries says that early indication are that the storms and floods have caused at least $7m damage to crops, and an addional $8m in damage to farm properties and fencing. Farmers described whole paddocks being "washed away", while many will lose this year's unharvested winter wheat crop and be unable to sow a summer one. Up to 30% of crops in the Central West sustained some sort of damage. Hail is also reported to have flattened many crops south of Condobolin. The DPI estimated that around 2,000km of fencing had been flattened on about 200 properties in the Fifield, Tottenham, Trundle and Tullamore areas. At least 20 farmhouses were flooded, and phone lines and road damage was widespread. Over 1,000 sheep are known to have been lost so far. One Trundle farm was completely flooded with the farmhouse inundated, 350 sheep drowned, 700ha of crop destroyed and 30km of fencing ruined.
Many roads were closed through the region. They included the Parkes to Orange Road, The Parkes to Condobolin Road, The Bogan Gate to Trundle Road and The Newell Highway between Forbes and Parkes.
Rainfall: The heaviest official rainfall recordings were at Parkes, where 130.0mm was recorded at the airport site east of town and 127.0mm in the town itself in the 24 hours to 9am Tuesday. However, 126mm of the 24-hour total at the airport fell in the 5 hours beginning 9pm, with a downpour of 15mm in 10 minutes to midnight. The 127.0mm at Parkes was its second highest one-day total in 111 years of records, eclipsed only by 149.9mm on 19 November 1943. To the east of Parkes, Manildra recorded 102mm. Long-standing November records were broken at Bathurst Agricultural Station with 66.2mm (previous record 50.6 in 97 years) and Molong with 95.0 (previous record 67.3 in 114 years). Shorter period records were set at Orange Airport and Oberon (see Records for Tuesday), Orange Airport recording 54mm in 3 hours from midnight, including some hail. A press report attributed to the Bureau of Meteorology said that Trundle, 50km WNW of Parkes, recorded 132mm over the 24 hour period, its highest one-day total since records began in 1889. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that an unofficial gauge on a farm near Trundle recorded 200mm while the Parkes Champion Post reported a fall of 225mm.
Eugowra: The intense rain from Parkes to Manildra produced heavy runoff into Mandagery Creek which runs SW through Eugowra, some 35km SE of Parkes. This sparked fears of a record flood peak of 10.5m in the town, and the SES and Department of Community Services began arrangements to evacuate the entire town of 730 by bus to Parkes showground. These were met with scepticism by most of the town's population which elected to stay put, though many lifted or moved possessions to higher ground. However, over 100 people, including a nursing home, were evacuated. The floodwater eventually peaked at 9.45m at 9.45pm Tuesday, below the peak of 10.2m in 1990 even though available rainfall recordings were higher this time. Water entered a number of homes on the western side of the town and flowed through some shops, including the supermarket.
Molong: Molong Creek broke its banks at 5am and peaked about 5.30am on Tuesday, with water up to a metre deep flooding 15 homes and 16 shops. Several shops were said to be "totally wrecked". Shop contents were lost and some business's walls collapsed. At the height of the flood, SES crews evacuated several families from their homes, with five people having to be rescued in a borrowed boat. Stock, fencing and pasture losses as well as road damage were reported in the area. The flood was said by the SES to be the highest in the town's history, with water levels higher than those recorded in 1956. Emergency Services Minister Tony Kelly said the clean-up cost would run to millions of dollars for the town, with the Cabonne Shire damage bill alone expected to top $1m.
Orange area: Strong winds blocked the Mitchell Highway between Orange and Molong with fallen trees and blew the roof off a 2-year-old house in Windera Estate, 15km from Orange towards Molong. The roof sliced through powerlines 300m away, and debris from it was found up to 600m away. The home's double garage was destroyed. Orange SES reported 35 callouts, 20 for property flooding and others to deal with road closures and trees split or brought down by lightning strikes. Creek and flash flooding was reported at Millthorpe, Forrest Reefs, Guyong and in Blayney township.
Parkes area: Homes at Trundle, 50km NW of Parkes, were evacuated and a man was rescued in floodwaters from the roof of his car. At Tullamore, a further 35km NW, houses in and around the town were flooded and horses in one paddock were reported standing up to their bellies in water. Flood damage was also reported at Yarrabandai.
Canowindra: Moderate flooding occurred in the Belubula River but was restricted to low-lying river flats and did not enter Canowindra where a peak of 4.9m was reported about 8pm Tuesday.
Bathurst: The Macquarie River at Bathurst peaked at 4.52m at 8pm Tuesday evening with moderate flooding. Minor to moderate flooding continued downstream to Burrendong Dam through to the end of the week.
Wellington: The Bell River at the Wollombi river gauge near Wellington peaked at 5.79m at 2pm Wednesday, with minor flooding and well below the level forecast.
SA: Rain "returns" to Adelaide, with a vengeance
In a rare quirk of nature, the moisture that brought heavy rain across much of SA yesterday returned today, after an excursion through western NSW and VIC, to bring widespread flooding to Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills. Early estimates put losses to crop growers on the Adelaide Plains alone at at least $40m. Yesterday's surface low pressure system continued to hover just south of the capital, strongly supported by an upper low stacked vertically above the surface low up to at least 250hPa this morning. A tongue of the moist airmass that crossed SA and caused the Broken Hill storm yesterday wrapped around the low today and can be seen in chart "returning" to Adelaide. During the afternoon and evening the upper low and colder air moved east into VIC although the surface low stayed anchored south of Adelaide.
The same chart also shows areas of strong instability in shades of buff and brown. Of note is the lack of instability over SA. So why did it rain so heavily? The upper air chart for Adelaide shows that between late morning (blue lines) and late evening (red lines) moisture increased at all levels up to about 8.5km as the tongue of moist returning air moved over the city. This appears to have happened mid-afternoon. At the same time, temperatures increased at all levels above the surface and moreso in the upper levels. Warmer air carries more moisture than colder air, and a comparison of the red temperature trace with the grey instability line shows the air to be conditionally unstable through the lowest 4km. All that was needed was something to trigger the conditional instability, and in a strengthening westerly wind this was the western slopes of the Adelaide Hills. Chart shows that the rainfall was almost entirely produced orographically, with areas around Port Adelaide recording less than 10mm while the location of strongest orographic ascent, just windward of the spine of the Mt Lofty range, recorded 100 to 120mm. This set-up lasted from about 3pm to about 11pm, after which drier air invaded above about the 2km level as both the surface and upper lows began to move away to the SE.
The highest rainfall registrations for the 24 hours to 9am Tuesday were closest to Mt Lofty: Cherryville and Uraidla 118.2, and Ashton Marble Hill Orchard 117.4. Of these totals, Cherryville recorded 77mm and Marble Hill recorded 85mm between 3pm and midnight. Most rain gauges in the Adelaide area recorded 75% or more of their 24 hour catch in these 9 hours. In the Hills, Bridgewater (79.2mm), Gumeracha (83.4), Lobethal (84.4) and Uraidla (118.2) all recorded their highest November one-day totals in well over a century of records. In the Barossa Valley, 42.4mm at Truro and 41.2 at Tanunda were their highest November totals since 19 November 1906. Adelaide itself received 43.2mm compared to its November monthly average of 29.6. See Tuesday's Records for more details.
A significant proporation of the rain fell from two rain areas. The first crossed the city and Hills between 7 and 8pm giving hourly totals of 10 to 16mm in a 20km-wide band from the southeastern suburbs to north of Birdwood. The second, between 9 and 11pm, produced between 15 and 30mm in an area bounded by Aldgate, Eagle on the Hill, South Para Reservoir and Mt Crawford.
Flooding was extensive but mostly localised to isolated individual houses. The Country Fire Service said that several hundred homes had been affected with at least a dozen shops at Aldgate flooded by the deluge. Some of the hardest hit areas included the suburbs of Norwood, Burnside, Millswood, Waterfall Gully and Goodwood in Adelaide's east, Tea Tree Gully in the north-east, and the Hills towns of Blackwood, Belair, Stirling, Aldgate, Bridgewater, Verdun, Mylor and Clarendon. Emergency services, including 800 volunteers, responded to 700 callouts and laid over 40,000 sandbags. Forty homes were damaged along the Waterfall Gully Road, Burnside, where a 5m section of the road collapsed leaving a 1.5m deep hole. Four hectares of a new housing estate in Craigmore was flooded, affecting about 5 houses. A number of houses along creek beds were reported with water running through their lower floors. Minor landslides occurred at Montacute and along Grenhill Road, while flooding closed a number of roads.
While flash flooding accounted for the widespread nature of the flooding, Adelaide's three main river basins, the Torrens, Gawler to the north and Onkaparinga to the south, all experienced moderate to major flooding as all three have their headwaters close to where the heaviest rain fell around Mt Lofty.
In the Torrens Basin , most of the tributaries peaked late this evening or early Tuesday morning with minor to moderate flooding. Gumeracha Weir peaked at 11.8m with moderate flooding, Kangaroo Creek Reservoir was full and spilling, but levels in the Torrens below the reservoir remained below minor flood level.
In the Onkaparinga Basin, most tributaries similarly peaked late this evening or early Tuesday morning with minor to moderate flooding. Lenswood Creek peaked around midnight with major flooding. Mount Bold Reservoir began spilling on Tuesday morning leading to rapid rises to minor flood levels downstream around Old Noarlunga where the river peaked late afternoon with minor flooding.
The Gawler Basin, with its greater size, produced more lasting flooding. The South Para Reservoir was full and spilling by early Tuesday morning, leading to moderate flooding downstream. The South Para River burst its banks overnight into Tuesday, flooding some houses, closing roads and requiring a caravan park and some homes to be evacuated. Moderate flooding affected Nuriootpa, Yaldara and Turretfield on the North Para River through Tuesday, dropping to minor flood levels by Tuesday evening and through into Wednesday. On the Gawler River, major flood flows peaked in Gawler township early Tuesday evening at around 200 cumecs. Major flood levels were reached late Tuesday afternoon from west of Gawler to Buckland Park. About 60 homes on the Gawler flood plain were damaged as the river overflowed its banks at Wingate Road, Johns Road and Bakers Road during Tuesday evening. Floodwater inundated about 15 square kilometres and residents were evacuated to a nearby sporting complex as 250 volunteers sandbagged properties. The river peaked at Heaslip Road around midnight Tuesday/Wednesday.
Virginia and Two Wells, close to where the Gawler River empties into the Gulf St Vincent, also experienced major flooding with water up to a metre deep in the town and 40 houses inundated. The number would have been greater but for a controversial decision by the SES to open a levy and rip out about 40m of the Adelaide to Port Augusta railway line to allow water to drain off across Port Wakefield Road into Buckland Park, which is between the sea and Virginia. The decision put 20 homes in Buckland Park at risk and caused severe interruption to transport, including halting the eastbound Indian Pacific transcontinental passenger train for at least two days. SES regional co-ordinator Matt Maywald told The Advertiser "It has caused severe interruptions to the transport industry but the risk to emergency services and the risk to the community needed that to happen. If the water had breached and gone into Virginia, we would be looking at hundreds of homes." Floodwaters around Virginia did not start to fall until Wednesday afternoon.
Crop growers on the Adelaide Plains in the Gawler basin estimate that damage to crops, machinery and buildings will total at least $40m. Little warning was given to the area which mainly grows vegetables. Local packer Jon Lioulios told ABC Rural News "People have lost all their livelihood. They've lost their properties, their houses, they've lost everything. So I don't know what's going on or what's happening. I don't think anyone else knows around the area either." One grower put his losses at between $1m and $1.5.
The eastbound Indian Pacific transcontinental passenger train was twice unlucky. It would normally have run from Port Augusta to Broken Hill and on to Sydney. On Tuesday it was turned back to Adelaide after reaching Broken Hill because of flooding in NSW. On Wednesday it was stranded at Mallala 50km N of Adelaide because of the flooded and removed sections of track.
The South Australian Government has announced that uninsured flood victims are eligible for emergency assistance grants to assist with temporary accommodation and cleanup. Meanwhile, The Advertiser reported that the Bureau of Meteorology was under some pressure for the lack of warning of the widespread flooding. The first public warning was issued at 9.55 pm Monday, after much of the rain had fallen, because the Bureau considered there was only a "low risk" of flooding, though confidential flood watches were issued to emergency services and some Councils as early as Friday night.
Northerly winds ahead of the cloudmass over SA, NSW and northern VIC made for an unpleasantly warm night in southern VIC and a near-record hot day in western TAS. Minima were in the high teens, around 8 to 11 above average, in SW and central southern parts of VIC. Melbourne City's low of 20.2C was 9.1 above. On Tasmania's West Coast and Central Highlands, maxima soared into the high 20s, Strahan reaching 29.4 (+11.7) and Strathgordon 28.5 (+12.8). The top of 26.0 at Lake St Clair was one degree below its record November maximum in 15 years of records.