Eastern Australia Sees another Coastal Low

Elsewhere in Weather News posts are beginning to sound like a broken record with all the recent flooding stories coming out of Australia. This past week there were yet again significant flash flooding problems across regions of Australia.

Northern New South Wales and southern Queensland were hardest hit this time as a low pressure quickly wrapped up just off the Eastern Coast of Australia – very similar to the setup that occurred last week. Observation sites indicate that there was a large swath of 150-200mm that fell across Northern NSW along the coast in just over 24 hours. With already saturated soils from the past week’s storm that dumped around 50mm in the same area, conditions were primed for flash flooding once the heavier rain bands arrived. Similar to last week’s low featured in EIWN, strong wind gusts of up to 100km/h were also observed.

Surface Map analysis from overnight Thursday shows the east coast low just off Australia's eastern shores and the tropical storm Quang about to make landfall on Western Australia territory. (Source: BoM)
Surface Map analysis from overnight Thursday shows the east coast low just off Australia’s eastern shores and the tropical storm Quang about to make landfall on Western Australia territory. (Source: BoM)

Flash flooding was the main cause of the damage in the region once again, as roads washed out and numerous homes were inundated. The Wilson and Lismore rivers were expected to peak later today at a moderate flood stage, meaning that properties along the banks of the rivers are at risk. In total, six people died from the most recent flood events, five of the six as they attempted to drive through flood waters that covered roads. This brings a harsh reminder to residents that when roads get flooded out it’s best to turn around and not drive through.

The east coast low wasn’t the only form of severe weather to affect Australia this past week – a cyclone also formed in the Eastern Indian Ocean and strengthened in to a category four over open waters. After substantially weakening due to cooler waters near Australia’s coast the system made landfall on Northwestern Australia’s shores as a tropical storm, prompting officials to issue rainfall warnings in the region. Damage from the storm appears to have been minimal, other than some minor flooding.

Deluge of Rain Falls on Eastern Australia

A persistent area of low pressure off the coast of Eastern Australia is to blame for extreme amounts of rainfall that fell during the mid-week.

An upper level low that was cut-off from the main jet stream to the south was the reason for the slow movement of the surface low. Sydney and surrounding regions were hardest hit from the storm where over 300mm fell in some areas in less than 24 hours. Dungog and Maitland, towns north of Sydney, received some of the highest amounts in the region; 312mm fell in Dungog in 24 hours and 301mm fell in Maitland in the same amount of time. Sydney received 225mm during a two-day span – relatively speaking, this is a significant rainfall for them. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology this was the most rain Sydney has received during two-day period in more than a decade. What made conditions even worse was that winds howled to 80km/h in Sydney and over 130km/h in three separate regions on the east coast of Australia. The high winds made for swells of over 6m out at sea.

The state of New South Wales is pictured with one-week rainfall totals. Bright pink shaded areas are areas that saw over 300mm of rain fall throughout the week.
The state of New South Wales is pictured with one-week rainfall totals. Bright pink shaded areas are areas that saw over 300mm of rain fall throughout the week.

Due to the high winds and flooding rains, power to 215,000 people was knocked out in the region. In addition to that, creeks quickly became dangerous, fast-flowing rivers in the Dungog region. Several houses in Dungog were washed away due to the floodwaters and unfortunately four people perished.  There were also 150 water rescues that had to be executed. As of Friday morning where were still a few thousand people isolated by floodwaters that cut off main roads. In total, 12 communities were officially declared a natural disaster area by the government – insurance companies estimate the damage to be around 100 million dollars.

Since then the soggy weather has continued, off and on, throughout the end of the week. With another system and associated cold from arriving from the west today, the chance for rain continues – amounts will be nowhere near the ones that were observed this past week, however.

Elsewhere in Weather News: October 19th, 2013

Australia Torched by Wildfires

This past week wildfires have been sweeping across New South Wales (NSW), a state located in the south-eastern part of Australia. A few thousand residents have been evacuated due to the fires, about 200 properties have been destroyed and one resident has died from the fires. West/northwest winds have been pushing plumes of smoke towards Sydney and dropping ash at the same time causing low visibilities at times and trouble for asthmatics. Currently, it’s not clear what started the fires. Some 60 fires were burning as of Thursday and about a third of them were not contained.

NSW fires

A few of the larger fires burning in NSW. Satellite image shows the plume of smoke over Sydney. (Source: NASA)

Unseasonably warm and dry weather is a factor as firefighters continue to battle the blaze in addition to dealing with gusty winds. A large high pressure sitting just off Australia’s east coast is to be blamed for bringing in the gusty northwest winds fuelling the fires. The next shot NSW will have at rain looks to be Tuesday as an area of low pressure passes to the south; the bulk of the rain will stay south but showers are still possible.

Yet Another Super Typhoon Forms

Francisco

Super typhoon Francisco on Saturday morning. Note the well defined eye. (Source:CIMSS)

Super typhoon Francisco formed earlier this week and has already reached category five status as it churned over the very warm waters of the Northwest Pacific. This morning, a very well defined eye could be seen as Francisco started to move northwest, taking aim at Japan. It is expected to make landfall somewhere on the south-eastern coast of Japan, though there is some uncertainty as to where exactly since it still has four to five days to travel over ocean waters. Regardless of where it makes landfall it will pose a flooding threat to all of Japan’s four main islands. Thankfully, by the time Francisco reaches Japan it will have weakened as lower sea surface temperatures will make it tough for Francisco to sustain itself. The typhoon will likely be of category one or two as it makes landfall next week.