Days of pounding rain last week left much of northeastern Australia swamped by a sea of muddy water, with flooding affecting about 200,000 people in an area larger than France and Germany combined. The rain has stopped, but rivers are still rising and overflowing into low-lying communities as the water moves toward the ocean.
Queensland was waterlogged already, thanks to the wettest spring (Sep – Nov) ever recorded. Then Cyclone Tasha hit on Christmas day. Here’s more detailed information and maps from a post by Jeff Masters last week.
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 theNational 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.
Update: More water on the way. This link from the BBC has an eye-opening video.
The Bureau of Meteorology says a severe thunderstorm late on Sunday night will bring “damaging winds, very heavy rainfall, flash flooding and large hailstones” to areas including Charleville, Emerald and Blackwater.
This includes areas in the central Highlands which have been hit badly by the floods in recent weeks.
Update: This is now the lead story on The Huffington Post, with a slideshow.