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More rain, flash flooding on the way as BOM finishes crunching the 2021 numbers

Thursday January 6, 2022 - 06:39 AEDT
ABC image
Storms like this one over Port Phillip Bay roll through on Thursday afternoon.  - ABC

Don't put away the brolly just yet. The rain is expected to settle in for the next few days in Australia's south east.

Regions in Victoria have already been battered, with several sites recording more than 100 millimetres in the 24 hours to 9am on Thursday.

According to Andrea Peace, meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), showers and storms are expected to continue on Thursdayand into Friday.

"We do expect to see those storms continue today and likely to bring heavy rainfall, with flash flooding into parts of ?Victoria and New South Wales," she said.

The ACT is also at risk of thunderstorms with damaging winds and large hailon Thursday afternoon.

By Friday, northern Tasmania is also expected to receiveheavy rain, with totals in excess of 100mm where thunderstorms develop.

"So flood warnings and watches are in place in Tasmania now as well," Ms Peace said.

The rain is the result of bothupper-level and surface troughsthat are driving tropical moisture south.

"But the good news is that through Friday, that will begin to contract towards the east and by Saturdayparts of south-eastern Australia should havemuch more settled conditions.

"So,just a couple more days toget through," Ms Peace said.

Stormy weather also continues in the tropics.

As usual keep up with the warnings onABC Emergency and follow the advice of emergency services.

The 2021 numbers are in

With all the rain in the south-east this week, it may feel like we are still in soggy 2021.

But despite how wet it might have felt in some places, 2021was nowhere nearthe wettest year on record, coming in at just 9 per centabove average for the nation as a whole.

It was, however, the wettest year since2016 and certainly had soddenpatches.

Things really kicked into gear with floods for Sydney and the NSW coast in March, with some areas recording theirwettest week for the region since national daily records began in 1900.

Since then it has become an ongoing story of dams filling and one town after another being threatened by the rising waters, bringing both joy and dismay.

November was Australia's wettest on record.

"We really did see that continued recovery from that dry period that we saw in 2017 to 2019," according to BOM senior climatologistLynette Bettio.

Water stores along the Murray-Darling have seen a remarkable turn around and the Menindee Lakes spilledfor the first time in years.

South-west Western Australia also saw a refreshingly wet winter, bucking the downward trend of recent decades.

"They saw one of the wettest April to October periods there in probably 20 years," Dr Bettio said.

Dr Bettio said it was really hard to talk about when a drought endedbut sheacknowledged that it was looking good, with the BOM putting out the first mostly clear drought map since 2017 in December.

"You'd still like a few more wet years or a few more average years to see that full recovery but [it's]certainly along the right path," she said.

A 'cool' year

Temperatures were also down on recent years ? 2021 saw us through the coolest mean temperatures since the big La Nia patch in 2012.

Canberra and Melbourne had their coldest maximum temperatures since 1996 andAdelaide thecoldest since 1997.

"2021 was almost 0.4 degrees cooler than the average of the last decade," Dr Bettio said.

"That doesn't necessarily mean that it was'cool,'" sheemphasised.

[embed annual temp graph]Temperatures might have felt cooler than usual but compared to the standard meteorological average from 1961to 1990 it was still 0.56 degrees Celsius above average.

In contrast though, Darwin's 2021 was decidedly balmy.

Darwin's maximum temperatures for 2021 were the equal fourth warmest on record, with overnights the equal eighth warmest.

Other stand-out weather events from 2021 included Cyclone Seroja making landfall unusually far down the WA coast, prompting concerns for cyclone building regulations in southern regions.

Mixed bag for farmers

But among all the good news it pays to remember some have so far missed out.

Those in the border region between South Australia and Victoria had a below-average rainfall year.

Susan Findlay-Tickner's property near Horsham in western Victoria falls within this zone.

"Our long-term 150-yearrainfall was about 400mm. So the fact that we got 316mm, it's well-below average for us."

But they have still managed to pull out an above-average crop.

"For us this year it was about timing rather than quantity," she said.

Going into thebeginning of the season, things were dry.

Patchy rain in May through to July meant their crops germinated unevenly.

But the uneven germination proved to be an asset when the frosts came, as not all the crop was vulnerable at the same time.

Average rain in September and October then finished off the crop.

The harvest was a bit later than usual but they managed to avoid too much late rain and got the crop out in time for Christmas.

"This is the third year in a row we've had really, really solid outcomes, which is awesome for the region," MsFindlay-Ticknersaid.

They estimate they have about 10,000 tonnes of producefromtheir approximately3,500-hectare property this year.

"That's 232 B-Doubles, if you are into fun facts," she laughed.

But in the north, the news hasn't been as good.

Farmers in north-west Queensland are selling off stock as the hoped-for good wet season has so far failed to arrive.

But there arestill a few months to go before the wet season is over.

Hughenden grazier and Mayor of Flinders Shire CouncilJane McNamarais still waiting.

"Whenever La Nia decides to come to north-west Queensland, we will welcome her with open arms," she said.


© ABC 2022

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