Weather News

Birdsville's Dry Flood

Lachlan Maher, Sunday February 24, 2019 - 10:52 AEDT

Despite having experienced no rain for nearly a month, Birdsville is currently experiencing a major flood event.

Heavy rains that impacted parts of central and northern Queensland earlier in February are now resulting in flooding in the northeast of South Australia as the water makes its way to Lake Eyre.

Part of the heavy rain earlier this month occured over the northern parts of the Lake Eyre basin, meaning that instead of the water flowing out to sea via the coast, it will make its way down into the centre of Australia, finally accumulating in the usually dry lake.

However, as it moves south, the water is leading to a major flood around Birdsville, an area which has not experienced any rain since late January. On Friday morning, the Diamantina River peaked around 8.2m at Birdsville, making it equal with the previous floods of 2004, 1991 and 1976, though it is still well below the highest recorded flood of 9.45m (recorded in 1974).

The majority of the floodwaters have come from the upper parts of the catchment. The town of Winton, close to the headwaters, recorded about 169mm of rainfall, most of which has flown south through the catchment. While 169mm does not sound particularly impressive, it is nearly half of the yearly average for the site, and it is more rain than has been recorded at Birdsville in the last 24 months.

While the floodwaters have likely peaked and should begin to recede in the coming days, they are still more than 300km away from its final destination. As such, it will still take a couple of weeks before the water has completely flown through the catchment and into lake Eyre.

- Weatherzone

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