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January 11, 2011 / Dave Gorham

Australia's "Inland Tsunami"

We blogged about the widespread flooding across eastern Australia last week. Frankly, even writing about the flooding then seemed like writing about the horse that was already out of the barn. But the rain there continues to fall and the flooding continues to cause incredible damage with hundreds of people homeless, lost, feared dead or dead. The headline from Brisbane today comparing Monday’s flooding to a tsunami confirms the flooding is not yesterday’s news.

This Reuters photo shows a car pinned to a bridge by receding flood waters.

In fact, weeks of flooding has befallen eastern Australia. Low pressure troughs seem to park themselves over the area with widespread rainfall totals of up to three inches per day — day after day. Yesterday’s news reported six inches in 30 minutes in Toowoomba, a city that typically receives 37 inches of rainfall annually. It’s this heavy rainfall that lead to the flooding which earned the nickname, “the inland tsunami.”

From ImpactWeather StormWatch:
An upper-level low pressure area located just off the coast of Queensland will continue to bring periods of heavy rain and thunderstorms to portions of southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales through early Tuesday. Though most of the heaviest activity should be south of the Capricornia and Wide Bay & Burnett regions, which have already suffered from widespread flooding lately, continued measurable rainfall cannot be counted out for these regions. In addition, repeated heavy rainfall for Brisbane has resulted in widespread flooding concerns over this area, as well. Daily rainfall totals of 2-3 inches, with isolated higher amounts will be possible which could result in additional flash flooding. There is a chance some storms could become severe, possibly containing gusty winds and hail.

ImpactWeather's StormWatch team continues to identify a persistent low pressure trough responsible for widespread flooding over eastern Australia. Image: ImpactWeather Gmaps.

Additionally, this same low pressure trough will stall over southeastern Australia and Tasmania over the next few days, and heavy rain will be possible over portions of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania through early Friday (local time). Daily rainfall totals of 2-4 inches with isolated higher amounts, will be possible which could result in a local flash flooding threat.

Lastly, it is summertime south of the Equator and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean are capable of supporting tropical cyclones. ImpactWeather’s TropicsWatch team has identified two areas of possible development.

Area one: A low pressure center located near 18.9S/170.2E, or approximately 125 nm east-southeast of Port Vila, Vanuatu, has a very slight chance of tropical development over the next few days as it continues to move southward.

Area two: An area of low pressure located near 15.1S/111.1E, or approximately 440 nm north-northwest of Learmonth, Australia, has a very slight potential for tropical development over the next few days as it tracks southeastward towards the northwestern coast of Australia.

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