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Record rain brings crocs, grasshoppers, flooding to NT and SA
Torrential rain set new records in the NT and parts of SA bringing unwelcome pests in the north and centre and more records in SA.
The Wet Season has begun in earnest across the NT Top End as the monsoon trough and an embedded low moved south into the Katherine area drawing tropical moisture down from the NW. Labelle Downs Station, 80km SW of Darwin, with over 20 years of observations, recorded its heaviest one-day total for any month of 275.0mm to 9 this morning, while Darwin Airport registered 145.6mm, its heaviest 24-hour total since January 2012.
The wet weather is bringing the crocs out in suburban Darwin, with a one-metre crocodile seen attacking a bin in Palmerston. "Police attended the location only to see the croc make a quick escape down the street drain pipe," Northern Watch Commander Acting Senior Sergeant Drew Slape told ABC News. "It's current whereabouts are unknown but it may still be in the area." This is the second croc to be seen in Darwin's suburbs this wet season.
Severe Weather Warnings are out for much of the Top End, with the Bureau keeping a close watch on the low which is expected to drift west over the next two days bringing further heavy rain, flooding and strong wind squalls over the Top End. Flood watches or warnings have been issued for most Top End rivers. The low is rated a 20% chance of moving offshore and developing into a Tropical Cyclone on Australia Day.
The situation is complicated by a second trough running from the Katherine low through Central Australia into the SE states. BoM duty forecaster Rebecca Patrick told the ABC "They're really experiencing some unusual weather for those parts of the Territory. We've just had the tropics extending right throughout Central Australia, we've got severe weather warning and flood watches for a trough moving through southern parts of the Territory, so it's all happening."
Watarrka, 200km SW of Alice Springs, recorded its heaviest January one-day total in a 25-year history this morning with 93.9mm in the gauge. This area of NT, and a large slice of SA, experienced torrential rain and flooding about a month ago. Many roads, including the main Tanami and Kintore Roads, are closed with lesser roads and tracks quagmires of mud. Food drops to isolated settlements have begun and further road closures are likely. To add to the discomfort, Alice Springs and area has been hit by a yellow-winged grasshopper plague brought on by last month's rain and the prolific vegetation growth following it. The species is more a nuisance than damaging, according to ABC Rural, and there is no likelihood of it migrating to agricultural areas away from the area.
Farther south in SA, the moisture brought south by this trough produced record downpours in the 24 hours to 9 this morning as it was undercut by a cold front moving across the state's south. On the Eyre Peninsula, Cummins with a 100-year history and Elliston with 130 years of rainfall records set new January highs of 50.0 and 60.6mm respectively.
A muggy night in SE Australia: Places in three states set new records for high minimum temperature for the 24 hours to 9 this morning. In NSW, Gulgong Post Office, with a 45-year climatic history, had its all-time highest minimum at 29.0, eclipsing the previous record of 28.0 set back in 1997. Gabo Island VIC, off the SE corner of the continent, set a new January record. Surrounded by sea, its minimum of 21.3 was 0.5 higher than the previous record set in 1982 in a history of nearly 60 years. Down on the TAS East Coast, Bicheno, with 40 years of observations, had its warmest 24-hour period with a minimum of 19.0. With hot air pouring into these three states from the NW and blocked from going farther by a high in the Tasman, hot days, very warm nights and high humidity levels are making life generally unpleasant, even if not record-breaking.
Spare a thought for sweltering Moree: Those that live in the northern inland of NSW are no strangers to hot weather, but the citizens of Moree have had more than their fair share. They have had 29 consecutive days during which the maximum temperatures were 35° or higher, a state record comprehensively beating the previous run of 17 days set in the summer of 1981-82. Rob Taggart of the Bureau told ABC News "We're also forecasting 35 degrees out at Moree for the remainder of the week so it looks like this new record will run out to 34 days in a row."