Unprecedented flooding hits Australia's Queensland

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 10:57 PM GMT on December 29, 2010

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Unprecedented flooding has hit the northeast Australian state of Queensland, thanks to a week and a half of torrential rains and the landfall of Tropical Cyclone Tasha on Christmas Day. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard stated yesterday, "Some communities are seeing flood waters higher than they've seen in decades, and for some communities flood waters have never reached these levels before [in] the time that we have been recording floods." The worst flooding occurred where Tropical Cyclone Tasha made landfall on Christmas Day. Though Tasha was a minimal tropical storm with 40 mph winds and lasted less than a day, the cyclone dumped very heavy rains of 8 - 16 inches (about 200 - 400 mm) on a region that was already waterlogged from months of heavy rains. According to the National Climatic Data Center, springtime in Australia (September - November) had precipitation 125% of normal--the wettest spring in the country since records began 111 years ago. Some sections of coastal Queensland received over 4 feet (1200 mm) of rain from September through November. Rainfall in Australia in December may also set a record for rainiest December. The heavy rains are due, in part, to the moderate to strong La Niña event that has been in place since July. While the rains have eased over Queensland over the past few days, some rivers will not reach peak flood stage until Friday. Approximately 1000 people have been evacuated from the affected area so far.


Figure 1. Rainfall in Queensland, Australia for the 7-day period ending December 29, 2010. Image credit: Australian Bureau of Meteorology.


Figure 2. Radar image of Tropical Cyclone Tasha as it moved inland over Queensland, Australia on Christmas Day (local time.) Image credit: Australian Bureau of Meteorology.


Figure 3. River conditions in Queensland as of 8:30am local time on December 30, 2010. Image credit: Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Flood warnings are in effect for over twelve rivers, and the flooding has closed approximately 300 roads across Queensland, including two major highways into the capital of Brisbane. Evacuations are underway in Rockhampton, a city of 50,000 people on the coast. Damage to infrastructure in Australia has been estimated at over $1 billion by the government, and economists have estimated the Australian economy will suffer an additional $6 billion in damage over the coming months due to reduced exports, according to insurance company AIR Worldwide. Queensland is Australia's top coal-producing state, and coal mining and delivery operations are being severely hampered by the flooding. Damage to agriculture is curently estimated at $400 million, and is expected to rise.

Flooding woes hit New Zealand
Wild weather has also hit New Zealand this week. Golden Bay on the northern end of the South Island of New Zealand had its worst floods in 150 years this week, thanks to torrential rains that dropped up to 13.2 inches (337.5 mm) in just 24 hours on Monday at one mountain location.


Figure 4. Two webcam views of the Motueka River in New Zealand taken five hours apart on December 28, 2010, showing the dramatic rise in the river due to flooding rains. Image credit: Tasman District Council. Screen shots kindly sent to me by Matt Johnson.

Jeff Masters

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352. bappit
4:26 PM GMT on December 31, 2010
Those baseball metaphors always confuse me.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5941
350. bappit
4:17 PM GMT on December 31, 2010
I saw this and thought one thing: WU.

Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5941
349. ycd0108
4:16 PM GMT on December 31, 2010
Floods in Egypt:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12098133
Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 174 Comments: 4590
348. Neapolitan
3:41 PM GMT on December 31, 2010
I never post videos.

If you are a global warming skeptic, Fox News viewer--or, likely, both--this should keep you busy for hours. ;-)

;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13455
347. GeoffreyWPB
2:54 PM GMT on December 31, 2010
Three deaths being reported in an Arkansas tornado:

Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10971
346. GeoffreyWPB
2:48 PM GMT on December 31, 2010
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10971
345. Chicklit
2:10 PM GMT on December 31, 2010
Looks like things are cranking up in the central conus.
Hope you are all sliding into home plate by midnight. HNY!
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11168
344. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:50 PM GMT on December 31, 2010
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
343. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:06 PM GMT on December 31, 2010
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
342. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:06 PM GMT on December 31, 2010
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
341. CybrTeddy
12:51 PM GMT on December 31, 2010
No WAY that we're going to see an El Nino in 2011 imo. Dec. 2011 El Nino might start, but this La Nina's too strong and might even strengthen more.


Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23565
340. GeoffreyWPB
12:42 PM GMT on December 31, 2010
Where Year 2011 enters first and 2010 ends last by time zone, around the World.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10971
339. severstorm
11:39 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Happy New Year to Everyone
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 956
334. KoritheMan
9:33 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Quoting traumaboyy:
Happy New Years Gang!!!


You too!
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 553 Comments: 19890
333. KoritheMan
9:33 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Quoting JFLORIDA:
This weekend looks like there is the possibility for some severe weather in the SE.

Not to mention a winter storm in the northern midsection.


Normally I'd love severe weather, being the weather enthusiast that I am. When I have plans, however...
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 553 Comments: 19890
330. traumaboyy
8:30 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Happy New Years Gang!!!
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2265
327. xcool
7:30 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
JRRP:
i'm gonna say neutra ;)
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
326. KoritheMan
6:38 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Quoting JRRP:
mmmm El Niño in July ????




Looks neutral to me, even in the region that matters most -- Nino 3.4.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 553 Comments: 19890
325. angellcruz
6:34 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
It's understandable given the high underwater earthquake activity in the last several weeks. Either by pressure, friction, or volcanic activity the sea waters are warmer and stronger steam currents flow in their way.
Member Since: August 25, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
324. washingtonian115
6:20 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Quoting JRRP:
mmmm El Niño in July ????


I don't really belive that solution.I thonk we'll enter El nino in december 2011-spring 2012.Not unless La nina flips over to El nino quickly like this past spring/summer,wicth I seriously doubt will happen.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
323. sunlinepr
5:49 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9693
322. JRRP
5:41 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
mmmm El Niño in July ????


Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5331
321. KoritheMan
5:34 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
320. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
5:33 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
319. sunlinepr
5:31 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9693
317. washingtonian115
4:38 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Quoting Chicklit:


This looks like trouble.

You know when the jetstream is in the position it's in,theirs bound to be trouble.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
316. washingtonian115
4:27 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Quoting pilotguy1:
I suppose there is no chance this can return to a weather blog.
Wait till hurricane season comes or a real dangerous weather event is in the making/occuring.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
312. bappit
3:43 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Looks like the storm is going to cover Route 66. From the Los Angeles NWS:

Statement as of 2:39 PM PST on December 30, 2010

... Significant wind gusts since 1139 am PST Thursday...
Los Angeles County peak wind gust
Burbank... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Northwest 33 mph.
Whittier hills... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ..northwest 37 mph.
Malibu Hills... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .south 45 mph.
Saugus... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .north 51 mph.
Camp Nine... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .northwest 48 mph.
Chilao... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .north 37 mph.
Warm Springs... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .west 40 mph.
Whitaker Peak... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... northwest 44 mph.
Saddleback Butte... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... southwest 33 mph.
Lancaster... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .northwest 36 mph.
Ventura County peak wind gust
chuchupate... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... north 33 mph.
Rose Valley... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ..North 32 mph.
Santa Barbara County peak wind gust
Vandenberg... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... north 32 mph.
San Luis Obispo County peak wind gust
none
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5941
311. xcool
3:40 AM GMT on December 31, 2010


Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
308. Chicklit
3:31 AM GMT on December 31, 2010


This looks like trouble.

Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11168
306. bappit
3:23 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Keep Manhattan ...

Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5941
305. BtnTx
3:19 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Quoting bappit:

How do you get in your blog? I had squirrels in my attic. Is it something like that?

Now That's Funny!
Member Since: October 12, 2001 Posts: 20 Comments: 890
304. PSLFLCaneVet
3:12 AM GMT on December 31, 2010



Perhaps I'll bow out.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
302. HurricaneKatrina
2:57 AM GMT on December 31, 2010
Quoting washingtonian115:
Um hello key words YOU DECIDE.

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/HurricaneKatrina/comment.html?entrynum=14 Its not a choice I can make. It is just the way it is.

http://www.globalsuperstorm.bravehost.com/prevention.html

http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Global-Superstorm-Art-Bell/dp/0743470656%3FSubscriptionId%3D06KMPSHEDS XXQMQVT482%26tag%3Daskcom-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3D074 3470656 Read this book about how Global warming can trigger a global superstorm and a new ice age.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 27 Comments: 267

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.