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|Tuesday 19 September 2017
Heavy rain sets records at top and bottom of the country
Unseasonally heavy rain has given some heavy totals on the QLD Far North Coast and eastern Atherton Tablelands in the 24 hours to 09.00 today and has continued through the day. The heaviest falls have been between Babinda and Tully with many gauges reporting totals between and 100 and 225mm over the 36 hours to 21.00 this evening.
The rain is being caused by a stationary or slow-moving upper trough providing instability to moisture-laden onshore winds. Babinda recorded 143mm in the 24 hours to 09.00 today, comfortably above its September monthly average of 122.4 but a long way off its record daily fall for September of 174.2 back in 1953. The nearby Clyde Road Flood Alert gauge recorded 170mm to 09.00 and has seen a further 54mm to 21.00. Babinda has been recording rain for 107 years, but many of the gauges in the area with shorter histories set new September records today.
At the bottom end of the country, as far south as you can go before you get to Antarctica, lonely Macquarie Island also set a new September rainfall record with 31.0mm. Rain has been recorded at Macquarie since 1948. This heavy fall was the result of a moist NW airstream moving down over the island ahead of a succession of fronts.
History repeats as Dominica receives direct hit from Hurricane Maria
Hurricane Maria, which intensified rapidly overnight to a category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, made a direct hit on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica at about 13.00EST today. Dr Jeff Masters, in Category 6 on Weather Underground, reports that a US Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft reported surface winds of 257km/h and a pressure of 924hPa at landfall.
Conditions on the island of 72,000 are not yet known, but are likely to be better than those endured on the island of Barbuda after it was hit by the stronger Hurricane Irma just under two weeks ago. Barbuda is three islands north of Dominica in the arc of the Leeward and Windward Islands at the eastern end of the Caribbean Sea, north of Venezuela. All 1,800 residents of Barbuda have been relocated to Antigua, the nation of Antigua and Barbuda's larger island, as Barbuda has been left effectively uninhabitable [The Weather Network].
Hurricane Irma is expected to pass over or close to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday and Thursday Australian Eastern Standard Time (EST), then close to the north coast of the Dominican Republic before curving into the Atlantic Ocean east of the United States.
The best information on the current status and forecast movement of the hurricane comes from the National Hurricane Center of NOAA. Be sure you're on the Atlantic tab then click the red hurricane symbol. This brings you to many graphics, but the detail is in the text report links above the graphic thumbnails. Public Adv[isory] links to a summary of the current status of the hurricane and all warnings and watches which is followed by a straightforward description of the current situation and forecast. The Discussion link takes you to the forecaster's own report on the situation, including details of recent hurricane hunter aircraft penetrations and more detailed analysis of the situation.
If you want to know more about how the widely-used Saffir-Simpson scale compares to the Australian BoM scale of tropical cyclone intensity, Wikipedia has this useful article.