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Unprecedented flooding hits Australia's Queensland

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

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


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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NEXRAD Radar
New Orleans, Storm Relative Mean Radial Velocity 1.45 Degree Elevation Range 124 NMI

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Quoting KoritheMan:
Looks like things are going to get interesting in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans metropolitan areas within the next two to three hours.
just a little
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TV Show Themes huh?

Count me in:

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Looks like things are going to get interesting in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans metropolitan areas within the next two to three hours.
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<
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Storm Y-5 had the TVS

NEXRAD Radar
Lake Charles, Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 124 NMI

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Nice. A moment, please. I like the direction.
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Good evening PSL!
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Slow tonight...How about T.V theme songs? I think Grothar is still in his iron lung.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting caneswatch:


Hello and you're welcome. How's the weather down there? 32 and freezing up here in the backwoods.



49, thus far. Had frost the last 2 nights, difficult to say about tomorrow, yet.

Greetings, Geoff.
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3Ft of Sneaux in 40 secs
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Hi canes...a leftover from last night:



ROFLMAO, that's gotta be one of the greatest videos i've seen.
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Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service New Orleans la
330 PM CST Wednesday Dec 29 2010


Long term...
the main upstream kicker for tonights weather is a large upper
level low pressure area which has moved into the Pacific
northwest. This low will move rapidly to the central rockies on
Thursday and then northeast to the western Great Lakes by Friday
night. A large slow moving upper level low pressure trough will
extend from the low. Embedded within this trough will be a slow
moving cold front which will act as a genesis area for numerous
showers and thunderstorms across southeast la and southern MS
Friday and Friday night. By that time there should be a good
connection of deep tropical moisture into the central Gulf states.
In addition...the forecast area will be in the distant right rear
quadrant of a large 120 knot jet located in the Southern Plains.
This upper level jet is ideally place to ensure that southeast la
and southern MS will be very near the axis of a 40 knots 850 mb
jet. This means there will be good low level convergence and upper
level divergence in place for US.

So conditions appear to have become
more favorable for a Maddox synoptic heavy rain episode to develop


new years evening. The cold front should move into the coastal waters
Saturday morning where it will become stationary through Sunday.
So the rain threat will continue through rest of the weekend. This
pretty close to what the GFS model is projecting. However...the
European model (ecmwf) model shows a much slower movement off the la and MS coast
on Saturday which would mean a continued threat of more heavy rain
for extreme southeast la and coastal MS. So the forecast Saturday
is somewhat uncertain at this point and may need to be amended if
the emcwf model turns out to be right.


NEXRAD Radar
Lake Charles, Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 124 NMI

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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



Hello, my friend. I appreciate your input!



Hello and you're welcome. How's the weather down there? 32 and freezing up here in the backwoods.
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Quoting caneswatch:


To all,

Last night on chat, this impostor was claiming to be the real PSLFLCaneVet, and telling us to report the real one. If you see this person on here, y'all know what to do.


Hi canes...a leftover from last night:

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Quoting caneswatch:


To all,

Last night on chat, this impostor was claiming to be the real PSLFLCaneVet, and telling us to report the real one. If you see this person on here, y'all know what to do.



Hello, my friend. I appreciate your input!

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



Good evening, all.

For the record, my avatar has been stolen and an impostor has tried to assume my identity.

The person goes by the handle of PSLFLCanesVet. Note the extra "s". Please disregard the tool, until action can be taken to remove it.

Thank you.


To all,

Last night on chat, this impostor was claiming to be the real PSLFLCaneVet, and telling us to report the real one. If you see this person on here, y'all know what to do.
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Do you guys know what this system is out by Hawaii, looks a little reminiscent to Omeka.



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Quoting Skyepony:
98S is new
Interesting
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24. Skyepony (Mod)
98S is new
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:



Good evening, all.

For the record, my avatar has been stolen and an impostor has tried to assume my identity.

The person goes by the handle of PSLFLCanesVet. Note the extra "s". Please disregard the tool, until action can be taken to remove it.

Thank you.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting RitaEvac:
Low pressure wrapping up right over Houston/Galveston area on satellite, plus the heavy rain right under the core if you will

hummm - missed seeing this set-up, going to call my kid in Galveston - thx
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Rain still pounding here but slowly spreading out.

Statement as of 6:22 PM CST on December 29, 2010

The National Weather Service in Lake Charles has issued a

* Flood Advisory for...
Hardin County in southeast Texas...
this includes the cities of... Thicket... Sour Lake... Silsbee...
Saratoga... Lumberton... Kountze...
southeastern Jasper County in southeast Texas...
this includes the cities of... Evadale... Buna...
Jefferson County in southeast Texas...
this includes the cities of... Sabine Pass... Port Neches... Port
Arthur... Nome... Nederland... Hamshire... Groves... Central Gardens...
Beaumont...
southwestern Newton County in southeast Texas...
this includes the city of Deweyville...
Orange County in southeast Texas...
this includes the cities of... West Orange... Vidor... Orange...
Mauriceville... Bridge City...
southwestern Allen Parish in southwest Louisiana...
this includes the cities of... Reeves... Kinder...
southern Beauregard Parish in southwest Louisiana...
this includes the cities of... Ragley... fields... Dry Creek...
Calcasieu Parish in southwest Louisiana...
this includes the cities of... Lake Charles Regional Airport...
Westlake... Vinton... Sulphur... Starks... Moss Bluff... Lake Charles...
Iowa... Hayes... de Quincy...
northwestern Cameron Parish in southwest Louisiana...
northwestern Jefferson Davis Parish in southwest Louisiana...

* until 815 PM CST

* at 620 PM CST... one to three inches of rain has fallen
today... and showers and thunderstorms continue to produce local
rainfall rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour. This will result in
minor flooding of some roads this evening.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the
depth and speed of flood waters.

Turn around... don't drown... most flood deaths occur in automobiles.
Never drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the
roadway. Flood waters are usually deeper than they appear. Just one
foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep vehicles off the
Road. When encountering flooded roads make the smart choice... turn
around... dont drown.

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Geeez....just checked out radar...thats one slow moving rain event moving from Tx and La toward me in Ms.......won't see any sun for a while, especially with more coming after this one...at least no tornado watches...yet...
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Low pressure wrapping up right over Houston/Galveston area on satellite, plus the heavy rain right under the core if you will
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Not as bad as that flooding. But its been raining like crazy here today.

Statement as of 4:49 PM CST on December 29, 2010

The National Weather Service in Lake Charles has issued a

* Flood Advisory for...
Orange County in southeast Texas...
this includes the cities of... West Orange... Vidor... Orange...
Mauriceville... Bridge City..
.

* until 645 PM CST

* at 448 PM CST... showers and thunderstorms are producing locally
heavy rainfall rates of 3 to 4 inches per hour. This will result
in rapid restrictions of visibilities while driving.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall may cause flooding of land
adjacent to small creeks and bayous. Additionally... frontage roads...
Highway underpasses... farm-to-Market and other secondary roads may
flood.

Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the
depth and speed of flood waters.

Turn around... don't drown... most flood deaths occur in automobiles.
Never drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the
roadway. Flood waters are usually deeper than they appear. Just one
foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep vehicles off the
Road. When encountering flooded roads make the smart choice... turn
around... dont drown.



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Major thunderstorm here in Baytown, extending from here to southwest of Houston and heading my way. Electric power is on and off.
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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