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SIGNIFICANT WEATHER - FEBRUARY 2002

Summary Tropical Cyclones Thunderstorms/Tornado Wind Flooding Bushfires Temperature Rainfall

SUMMARY

Tropical cyclone Claudia had no impact on the Australian coast while tropical cyclone Chris caused widespread cattle losses and heavy rain in Western Australia.

Thunderstorms occurred in all states producing heavy rain in New South Wales and Victoria. Heavy rainfall in Queensland during the middle of the month caused widespread flooding.

Hot, dry weather conditions in Queensland during the summer continued into February with bushfires mostly about south east Queensland.

TROPICAL CYCLONES

Queensland

Tropical cyclone Claudia developed over the central Coral Sea and moved in a southeast direction throughout its lifetime ahead of a middle level trough. The system developed rapidly and was named on the 11th. Claudia had intensified to a severe category 3 cyclone on the 12th and had no impact on the Australian coast.

Western Australia

A tropical low developed into tropical cyclone Chris at about 6am WST on the 3rd when it was located about 340 km northwest of Broome. The cyclone rapidly intensified as it tracked on a southerly course towards the coast. Chris reached category 5 strength on the 5th and was close to maximum intensity with wind gusts to 290 km/h as it crossed the coast at 4am on the 6th about 160 km eastnortheast of Port Hedland between Pardoo and Wallal stations. Chris rapidly weakened over land passing just to the west of Marble bar at about 3pm. Pardoo roadhouse suffered widespread damage as the cyclone passed about 30 km to the east. Pardoo Station which is 60 km to the westsouthwest of the cyclone crossing location escaped with only minor damage, however widespread cattle losses occurred.

Heavy rain inland at Bonney Downs (306mm) caused the Nullagine River to burst its banks in the early hours of the morning of the 7th inundating Nullagine 230 kilometres southeast of Port Hedland. The remote Aboriginal community at Jigalong also received flooding on the 7th.

THUNDERSTORMS/TORNADO

Queensland

An afternoon thunderstorm on the 1st uprooted two historic bottle trees in Roma. Power lines were also brought down. Another thunderstorm affected the Julia Creek area and produced wind gusts of up to 100 km/h.

On the 2nd widespread thunderstorms developed over southeast Queensland eventually moving off the coast in a broad slow-moving line. Very heavy rainfall and some instances of flash flooding were reported from parts of Ipswich and Brisbane, including a rainfall report of 70mm of rain falling in 45 minutes at Camp Mountain. A
tree was brought down onto power lines at Leichardt (an Ipswich suburb).

On the 3rd a thunderstorm occurring around dawn produced damage in the Hughenden area. Strong winds caused extensive tree damage that took 3 days to clean up. Some trees were uprooted in parks and many limbs were blown down. Many buildings were either partially or completely unroofed, including a stable, an old
water tower, and sheep yards. Two large roller doors at the council depot were blown in.

On the 5th an inland trough over eastern Queensland triggered the first of four days of thunderstorm activity over the southeast. A broad line of storms moved over the eastern Darling Downs, Southeast Coast, and southern Wide Bay and Burnett districts during the afternoon. A house was unroofed at Pittsworth, and a tree brought
down onto a car at Kingaroy. However, the most intense cell in the line affected the Esk area. At least one house on the Gatton-Esk road had every window smashed by hail. Hundreds of trees, many of them large were also brought down, blocking the road.

An area of thunderstorms developed over the northern Darling Downs and inland Wide Bay and Burnett districts on the 6th. Hail 2cm in diameter was observed from a cell west of Oakey.

Wind gusts stripped the corrugated iron roof from a house at Eidsvold (south of Monto) between about midnight and 2am on the 7th. Large branches were also brought down. Further thunderstorms formed east of the inland trough during the afternoon. The strongest cell affected the Toogoolawah area, with the Watts Bridge Airfield sustaining very severe wind and hail damage to hangar structures.

On the 8th a splitting storm west of Boonah produced a supercell which tracked through the Greenbank, Logan and Woodbridge areas before weakening and moving off the coast near Redland Bay. Hail to near golf-ball size was reported from Greenbank. At Woodridge 25mm of rain fell in 8-9 minutes.

Isolated thunderstorms formed late in the afternoon about the southern border ranges ahead of a southeasterly wind change on the 22nd. One of the storms produced hail to 3cm in diameter in the Fig Tree Pocket area. A few trees were also brought down onto houses at Mount Ommaney.

New South Wales

On the 1st at Tamworth (North West Slopes) winds up to 100km/h were experienced and 27mm of rain was recorded in 30 minutes. On the 2nd at Goulburn (Southern Tablelands) 2.5cm hail and heavy rain was reported in the area.

Hail, 4cm in diameter, very heavy rain and flash flooding was reported at Tabulam (Northern Tablelands) on the 7th.

On the 8th at Nowra (Illawarra) 3-5cm hail was reported between Mittagong and Nowra as a thunderstorm produced heavy rain and winds of 115km/h at Nowra. A Tornado was reported at Pyree which moved in a westerly direction. At Braidwood (South Coast) 2cm hail and heavy rain was reported as a thunderstorm travelled in a southeast direction towards Moruya Heads. At Avalon (Metropolitan) 2.5 cm hail was reported as
a thunderstorm split over Gosford and travelled in a southsoutheast direction. At Ermington (Metropolitan) 2-3.5cm hail was reported between the Ryde-Concord area and the coast. Heavy falls of hail were reported for 10 minute periods. At Harbord (Hunter) 3cm hail was reported along the Sydney Northern Beaches and the Central Coast. At Coleambally (Riverina) 3cm hail and very heavy rain occurred. A microburst destroyed several trees at Coleambally. Also on the same day at South West Rocks (Mid North Coast) 4cm hail, very heavy rain and strong winds were reported in the area.

On the 16th Mannus (South West Slopes), tennis ball size hail was reported with flash flooding. In western Sydney (Metropolitan), a large thunderstorm travelled in a northnortheast direction affecting an area between
Campbelltown and Gosford. Violent rainfall and severe wind gusts were reported. Small hail was reported for the duration of the storm.

Large hail damaged houses at Jerilderie (Riverina) on the 20th.

On the 26th at Bombala (Southern Tablelands) golf ball sized hail, severe wind gusts and violent rainfall caused major damage to parts of Bombala and Delegate. Bombala High School and nearby shops were flooded, trees were uprooted and windows smashed by the hail.

On the 27th at Cowan (Hunter) 2cm hail was reported with violent rainfall. The storm delivered small hail from Penrith across to the Kuringai National Park.

Victoria

On the 1st severe storms occurred in and around Melbourne. Power was cut in some areas. Hail over 4cm in diameter occurred in the central business district, and 2cm hail occurred at Brooklyn. Heavy rain and local flooding was reported at Doncaster (52mm), Werribee, Keilor Park, Caulfield (44mm), Moorabbin (28mm),
Elsternwick and Yarra Glen (30mm). Severe winds and wind damage occurred at Keilor Park, Caulfield and St Albans where 6 gum trees were blown down. At Newstead, in the North Central District a thunderstorm produced 41mm of rain in 30 minutes.

A thunderstorm produced hail to 2cm and heavy rain at Gipsy Point near Mallacoota on the 2nd.

On the 7th Cape Otway AWS recorded 28mm of rain in 1 hour with a thunderstorm. At Bayles in South Gippsland 47mm of rain was reported in 2 hours. At Ballarat a thunderstorm produced damaging winds and a possible tornado. Very heavy rainfall was recorded with 55mm occurring in 1 hour. Heavy falls of rain were also
recorded in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne with local falls around 50mm. At Arthurs Creek (northnortheast of Melbourne) trees were blown down with a storm.

On the 8th at Avoca a thunderstorm produced heavy rain, hail and strong winds. Leaves were stripped off trees and water damage occurred at the hospital, 105mm of rain was reported at Barwon Heads in about one hour.

Severe winds and heavy rain occurred in East Gippsland on the 10th. At Genoa 120mm of rain was recorded in 24 hours and gusts 90 to 100 km/h were reported.

A storm produced 32mm of rain in 20 minutes at Hopefield via Pyramid Hill in the Northern Country on the 14th.

On the 15th severe storms were reported in the Mallee, Wimmera, Western, Northern County and Central districts causing severe winds and heavy rain. At Swan Hill gusts to 124 km/h were recorded by the AWS and the airport terminal roof was blown off. Horsham AWS recorded a maximum gust of 91 km/h. At Edenhope a roof was blown off. Trees were downed at Avoca and Ballarat. A possible tornado was sighted at Whittington near Geelong. At Annuello 25mm of rain was recorded in 30 minutes.

Hail 4cm in diameter was reported at Corryong on the 16th.

On the 20th storms produced heavy rain in the North Central district, 22mm was recorded at Strath Creek in 15 minutes and 40mm at Glenburn in 30 minutes.

On the 25th severe storms occurred in the Central, North Central, Northern Country and Gippsland districts. Heavy rain was reported at Licola (25mm in 30 minutes). At Wheelers Hill heavy rain with local flooding, severe winds and hail caused tree damage. A possible tornado at Rochester caused extensive wind damage. Sheds
were demolished and large pieces of steel were carried some distance. A cow was killed when a large branch fell on it and 68mm of rain was recorded in 40 minutes in the Trentham area. Near Bendigo, heavy rain, local flooding, large hail and severe winds were reported. Hail damage to vehicles and other property occurred.
Fences were damaged due to local flooding.

Tasmania

There was widespread thunderstorm activity across Tasmania on the 20th. Worst affected was the north and northwest where approximately 20,000 homes and businesses experienced power blackouts.

South Australia

On the 15th a severe thunderstorm with a wind gust to 91 km/h occurred at Padthaway (Upper South East).

On the 21st a severe thunderstorm affected Cordillo Downs (Northeast Pastoral district). Wind squalls associated with the gust front blew off a section of a house roof and 28mm of rain was recorded in 30 minutes.

Western Australia

On the 3rd a severe thunderstorm took roofs off several houses in the Chapman Valley. Nabawa received 45mm of rain.

Northern Territory

On the 12th a tornado caused a narrow damage swath about 2 kilometres long through the Bynoe Haven subdivision, about 50 kilometres southwest of Darwin. Large trees were felled or snapped and outbuildings on one property were damaged.

WIND

Tasmania

Two people were rescued from a fishing boat wrecked by gales on the Tasman Peninsular on the 15th. In a second incident on the 21st, two people were rescued from a dinghy overturned in gales near Cape Lodi (near Bicheno).

South Australia

During the pre-dawn hours of the 15th, short-lived severe wind squalls were reported from parts of the West Coast and Eyre Peninsula. A wind gust to 95 km/h was recorded at Minnipa (West Coast) and four holiday shacks were badly damaged at Port Neill (Lower Eyre Peninsula). The Port Neill damage occurred coincident with high based convective clouds near a wind change and was most likely caused by an intense downburst or a tornado.

FLOODING

Queensland

Nearly 50 flood warnings were issued for ten river basins during February.

During the period from the 14th to 21st, very heavy rainfall was recorded along the coastal region between Ingham and Mackay and extended throughout the upper Burdekin and Cape River and into the upper Flinders and Gilbert River basins. Rainfall totals during this period were generally between 200mm and 400mm along the coastal strip. The highest totals in the period were recorded at Paluma which reported 824mm in the period.
Inland totals were generally between 100mm and 200mm in the same period.

Don River

Rainfall totals between 100mm and 175mm were recorded in the Don River on the 14th and resulted in a moderate flood in the lower reaches that afternoon.

Burdekin River and tributaries

Very heavy rainfalls were recorded in the upper Burdekin and Cape Rivers during the period 13th to 18th with the highest total of over 800mm around Paluma with widespread falls between 300mm and 400mm. Major flooding
resulted in the upper Burdekin and Cape River with the flooding in the Cape system being amongst the highest ever recorded. Minor flooding occurred along the lower Burdekin River from the 18th and continued to the 21st.

Upper Flinders River

Heavy rainfalls up to 300mm were recorded in the upper reaches of the Flinders River from 14th to the16th. As a result, moderate flooding extended from Hughenden to Hulberts Bridge to the 19th.

Western Australia

A monsoon low that originated over the Northern Territory caused widespread heavy rain and flooding as it moved slowly over the Kimberley and east Pilbara from the 20th to the 28th. Daily falls exceeding 100mm accumulated to cause one of the highest levels ever recorded on the Fitzroy river. Many towns and communities were isolated by floodwaters including Kununurra and several aboriginal communities required evacuation. Significant stock losses occurred. Notable daily rainfall totals included: 20th Kununurra (111mm);
21st El Questro (153mm); 22nd Mt Hart (150mm); 23rd West Roebuck (142mm); and 27th Bonney Downs (229mm).

Northern Territory

From the 10th to the 24th an active monsoon trough with a slow moving, deep monsoon low over the Top End produced floods in Katherine-Daly, Waterhouse-Roper and Victoria River systems. The Stuart, Victoria, Roper and Arnhem Highways were all cut for various periods.

Victoria Catchment

Major flooding in the Wickham River tributary (highest ever recorded level of 15.35 metres on the 12th) caused moderate flooding in the Victoria River, reaching a peak of 19.65 metres on the 24th. The Victoria Highway to Western Australia was closed from the 19th to the 28th.

Roper Catchment

The Waterhouse River began rising on the 12th to a major flood peak at Beswick of 9.04 metres on the 14th. About 300 people were moved to higher ground when the community was flooded for the fourth time in the last five years. Further downstream, the flood waters affected the Mataranka Resort and Djilkminggan community
where 200 people were evacuated to nearby Mataranka after the Roper River broke its banks.

Daly Catchment

Katherine was threatened but did not flood, when the Katherine river rose to a peak of 17.03 metres on the 14th. Further downstream, the Daly River peaked at 13.75 metres at the Police Station gauge on the 23rd. This caused some flooding at the nearby community where 4 houses were affected by flood waters, but the residents were relocated within the community. At the end of February the river was still above 13 metres and
receding slowly.

BUSHFIRES

Queensland

On the 2nd thunderstorm activity extinguished two bushfires on North Stradbroke Island which between them burned out over 1,000 hectares of land.

On the 4th a grass fire at Mt Isa burned out a 10 kilometre strip of land threatening a number of properties.

On the 9th hot, dry conditions and westerly winds combined to produce ideal conditions for fires in south east Queensland. Two fires, one in the Pine Ridge Conservation park in the Coombabah- Hollywell area of the northern Gold Coast and the other on North Stradbroke Island. The Gold Coast fire burnt out more than half the park and threatened a number of homes before being bought under control on the 10th. The fire on North Stradbroke Island burned out over 200 hectares of land near the island's golf course. No homes were threatened.

Tasmania

On the 2nd a scrub fire burnt about 800 hectares on South Bruny Island, while on the 13th about 300 hectares were burnt in Rocky Cape National Park.

Fires started on the 16th near Corinna on the West Coast where 2,500 hectares was burnt over several days.

Northern Territory

Several fires in the southern half of the Northern Territory that were lit by lightning in January continued burning into February. A large fire in the Derry Downs, Ammaroo and Ooratippra pastoral stations burnt a total of
several thousand square kilometres during a four week period.

Many small bushfires were deliberately lit closer to Alice Springs early in February before widespread rain and cooler weather in the third week of the month extinguished most fires.

TEMPERATURE

Highest Mean Maximum Temperature for Any Month
Station
Actual
Previous Highest
Year
Years of Record
°C
°C
 
 
Queensland
Cape Moreton Light House
28.7
28.2
1926
89

Highest Mean Maximum Temperature for February
Station
Actual
Previous Highest
Year
Years of Record
°C
°C
 
 
Queensland
Cape Moreton Light House
28.7
28.2
1926
89

Highest Mean Minimum Temperature for Any Month
Station
Actual
Previous Highest
Year
Years of Record
°C
°C
 
 
Queensland
Cairns Aero
24.9
24.7
1961/64/73/80
61
Ayr DPI Research Stn
24.1
24.0
1983/98
44
St Lawrence PO
24.7
24.2
1987/98
63
Rockhampton Aero
24.0
23.7
1981/82
63

Highest Mean Minimum Temperature for February
Station
Actual
Previous Highest
Year
Years of Record
°C
°C
 
 
Queensland
Cairns Aero
24.9
24.7
1961/64/73
61
Innisfail
24.6
24.2
1973/98
94
South Johnstone Exp Stn
23.9
23.8
1981/91/2000
51
Townsville Aero
25.5
25.2
1980/98
62
Ayr DPI Research Stn
24.1
24.0
1998
44
St Lawrence PO
24.7
24.2
1998
63
Rockhampton Aero
24.0
23.7
1981
63

Lowest Mean Maximum Temperature for February
Station
Actual
Previous Lowest
Year
Years of Record
°C
°C
 
 
Western Australia
Ongerup
25.4
25.8
1993
32
Ravensthorpe
25.4
26.3
1993
39

Lowest Mean Minimum Temperature for February
Station
Actual
Previous Lowest
Year
Years of Record
°C
°C
 
 
Western Australia
Eyre
13.6
14.0
1998
43
Norseman
13.2
13.9
1957
49
Ravensthorpe
11.9
12.5
1980
38

Highest Daily Maximum Temperature for February
Station
Actual
Date
Previous Highest
Year
Years of Record
  °C
 
°C
 
 
Queensland
Mount Isa Aero
43.5
3
43.4
1983
37
Ingham Composite
40.6
9
40.0
1992
34
Northern Territory
Warruwi
36.0
1
35.7
1983
32
Centre Island
40.3
2
39.1
1983
26
Centre Island
40.6
3
40.3
2002
26

Lowest Daily Maximum Temperature for February
Station
Actual
Date
Previous Lowest
Year
Years of Record
  °C
 
°C
 
 
Northern Territory
Oenpelli
25.6
12
25.7
1968
38
Victoria River Downs
25.0
19
27.5
1981
35
Curtin Springs
18.2
21
20.6
1974
37
Curtin Springs
16.8
22
18.2
2002
37

Highest Daily Minimum Temperature for February
Station
Actual
Date
Previous Highest
Year
Years of Record
  °C
 
°C
 
 
Queensland          
Kowanyama Airport
28.0
3
27.3
1995
35
Northern Territory
Centre Island
30.9
3
30.7
1983
26
Larrimah
29.6
3
28.9
1970
36

Lowest Daily Minimum Temperature for February
Station
Actual
Date
Previous Lowest
Year
Years of Record
  °C
 
°C
 
 
Northern Territory          
Yuendumu
10.9
23
12.3
1972
33

RAINFALL

Highest Monthly Rainfall on Record for February
Station
Actual
Previous Highest
Year
Years of Record
mm
mm
 
 
Victoria
Club Terrace
270.4
153.2
1990
43
Genoa (Fools Haven)
194.8
171.6
1990
31
Western Australia
Bonney Downs
649.6
297.9
2000
96
Carnegie
255.2
238.9
1946
47
Mount Amhurst
425.2
416.4
2001
47
Yulmbu
562.0
470.8
1991
37
Northern Territory
Hayes Creek
543.0
412.8
1992
29
Katherine Aviation Museum
444.6
387.1
1974
25
Katherine Rural College
554.0
463.0
1982
39
Middle Point Navy
526.1
506.1
2000
25
Oenpelli
658.0
657.8
1991
90
The Pines
673.2
534.8
1974
28
Elsey
526.6
366.6
1991
42
Larrimah
481.8
472.2
1991
48
Bullita
638.8
585.6
1969
33

Lowest Monthly Rainfall on Record for February
Station
Actual
Previous Lowest
Year
Years of Record
mm
mm
 
 
Queensland
Russleigh
  0.0
  1.4
1988
52
Kalinga Bowls Club
22.0
32.3
1963
47
Grange Bowling Club
28.4
32.8
1986
31

Highest Daily Rainfall on Record for Any Month
Station
Actual
Date
Previous Highest
Year
Years of Record
mm
 
mm
 
 
Queensland
Inorunie Station
180.0
12
164.3
1942
39
Pentland PO
226.0
15
169.7
1998
116 

Highest Daily Rainfall on Record for February
Station
Actual
Date
Previous Highest
Year
Years of Record
mm
 
mm
 
 
Queensland
Pormpuraaw
257.2
12
214.0
1989
42
Inorunie Station
180.0
12
164.3
1942
39
Pentland PO
226.0
15
169.7
1958
116 
Gregory Springs Station
138.8
16
111.6
1991
75
Glenorie
120.0
15
 99.5
1997
72
Cheepie PO
115.0
25
 76.2
1955
57
Victoria
Club Terrace
161.4
11
114.3
1971
43
Genoa (Fools Haven)
120.0
11
 76.0
1992
31
Western Australia
Bonney Downs
306.0
  7
126.2
1971
96
Ellendale
121.0
23
199.9
1963
54
Leopold Downs
130.0
22
121.9
1967
87
Ord River Dam
107.0
21
 86.5
2000
34
Yulmbu
136.4
22
119.4
1956
37
Northern Territory
Beatrice Hill
106.0
12
102.4
1997
38
Katherine Research Farm
125.2
11
 89.6
1987
32
The Pines
238.6
12
139.7
1972
30
Elsey
135.0
14
127.8
1992
42
Mataranka Homestead
121.0
14
110.0
1992
57
Camfield
  97.4
20
 96.0
1991
32
Rosewood
131.0
21
125.7
1942
104 
Soudan
  86.2
24
 76.2
1953
33
Tarlton Downs
  89.0
22
 80.4
1976
43


Note: Some statistical records mentioned in this report are based on data that have yet to be fully validated.



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