Cyclones to Australia's east and NW as Broome swamped again
Sat 17 Feb 2018
The tropical depression that has been wandering westward across the WA Kimberley since last Wednesday 14 February stalled near Broome on Friday. This gave the town and nearby area a record day's rain less than three weeks after another record rainy period which was also provided by a slow-moving tropical depression. The low then continued to move slowly and erratically between W and SW, and reached cyclone status today, christened Kelvin.
Broome Airport's 370.6mm to 9am today was decidedly its highest 24-hour February rainfall in nearly 130 years. The previous Airport record, in a history going back to 1939, was a measly 181.6 on 22 February 1991, while the record at the old Post Office station at Broome, which ran from 1889 to 1953 was a healthier 302.5 on 03 February 1932. West Roebuck, 11km NE of the town, had a remarkably close 370.0mm, its all-time highest in a nearly 20-year history. Adding insult to injury on Friday, Broome Airport also had its coldest February day since records began with a maximum of 25.3, 0.1 below the record set at the Post Office in 1902.
This comes less than three weeks after Broome had its second-highest January one-day fall (412.2mm) and its highest five-day total (697.2mm) in the combined Airport/Post Office record going back to 1889. To 21.00 on Saturday evening, Broome Airport had recorded 1420.6mm since the beginning of the year, 76.0mm below their heaviest full year's rainfall in the 129-year history of 1496.6 in 2000, and with nearly 10½ months of 2018 still to go. Broome's average rain for January and February combined is only 368.5 and the median is 299.3.
The huge, 1 to 2m deep inland sea that was left on the Roebuck Plains to the S and E of Broome at the end of January has been slowly draining away. However, Main Roads Regional Manager, Andrew Pyke, told ABC News "The Roebuck plains have already got 100 to 200mm over them now, and certainly the events we've had in the past 24 hours isn't helping. From a flooding perspective, it's a bit of a perfect storm. We've got a lot of water sitting on the Roebuck plains area now and a lot of water happened in the last 24-48 hours in the Broome area, and there is more water coming down with the passing of this cyclone. It is quite difficult."
The same ABC News article gives details and photos of the problems now being experienced in and around Broome, while this later article gives details of preparation for Tropical Cyclone Kelvin, which is expected to cross the coast east of Sandfire on Sunday morning. This BoM WA tweet explains the high-tech method used to record the huge volume of rain in the manual gauge this morning.
On the other side of the continent, Tropical Cyclone Gita passed south of New Caledonia on Saturday. It prompted hazardous surf warnings for the SE QLD and whole NSW coasts for both Sat and Sun. Gita looks in a similar mould to Fehi three weeks ago, but moved south of New Caledonia rather than taking Fehi's route down the long west coast, and on current forecast will pass well west of Norfolk Island rather than Fehi's pass close to the east. Fehi then passed across the SI of NZ, with wind gusts to over 160km/h, much rain and damage, so Kiwis must be watching ex-TC Gita's expected impact on NZ around Cook Strait closely.
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