SIGNIFICANT WEATHER - FEBRUARY 2002
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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),
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
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
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.
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.
On the 3rd a severe thunderstorm took roofs off several houses in the Chapman Valley. Nabawa received 45mm of rain.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Note: Some statistical records mentioned in this report are based on data that have yet to be fully validated.