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Bureau releases major reports on WA flooding, eastern Australian heatwave
The Bureau of Meteorology released a Special Climate Statement (SCS) on the widespread and unseasonal flooding in WA last Wednesday with this stunning photo on its Facebook page. The photo should be etched in the memories of anyone considering driving through floodwaters because "they know the road" - you never know what is (or isn't) below the surface.
The SCS on WA flooding (pdf) shows how exceptional the late January/early February rain event was in WA's Southwest, for which this is the dry season averaging just 50.4mm over the whole of summer. Ravensthorpe recorded 240.8mm between 1 and 14 February, sealing its wettest month in a 116-year history by halfway through the month.
Yorkrakine in the Central Wheat Belt recorded 197.5mm in the four days to 1 February with a nearby unofficial station racking up 217.2mm, figures that have less than 1% chance of occurring in any one year. Perth Metro station recorded 114.4mm in the day to 09.00 on 10 February, its second highest one-day fall in records going back to 1876.
A second SCS describing the prolonged and extreme heat (pdf) in NSW, SA, southern QLD and northern VIC in January and February was issued yesterday. Anyone who lived through the event will remember it for the rest of their lives, and it wrote all types of historic highs in the record book.
It set records for the hottest February day averaged over the whole state of New South Wales - twice. Moree reached 35° or above on a record 54 consecutive days and Mungindi did so on 51 consecutive days, both beating Bourke's state record of 50 consecutive days set in 2012/13. The highest temperature recorded was 48.2° at Tarcoola SA, while Birdsville QLD (47.1°), Hillston NSW (47.2°), Menindee NSW (47.5°), Moree NSW (47.3°), Mungindi NSW (47.8°), Nyngan NSW (47.4°), Thargomindah QLD (47.2°), Walgett NSW (47.9°) and Wilcannia NSW (47.4°) all topped 47° and set new February records.
The two SCS reports are thorough and packed with information on the background to the events, a description of them, the records set and how they stand in history, and in the case of the WA event the impact of flooding caused by the rain. Unfortunately, the impacts of the successive heatwaves are not described. They are worth reading and have something for almost everyone, as across the two events they affected much of the population of Australia.