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Record rainfall in Queensland's Wide Bay signals the start of La Niña

By ABC Wide Bay reporters, Wednesday November 24, 2021 - 21:10 AEDT
ABC image
There was flash flooding at Moore Park Beach after 201mm of rain fell in 24 hours. - ABC

The so-called Bundaberg dome has burst with the city set to record its wettest November since 1934. 


Localised flash flooding has cut roads, dams are overflowing, and parts of the Wide Bay Burnett have already received triple their monthly rainfall average.


Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Falem Hanniffy said almost a month's worth of rain fell in a single day in Bundaberg on Monday.


"Two events alone have pushed it above its monthly average, and the month isn't finished yet," he said.


Moore Park Beach, just north of Bundaberg, received a 24-hour total of 201 millimetres last week.


Locals often refer to the "Bundaberg dome" as the area that always misses out on significant rain.


The record books show some of the wettest November totals were received in the 1970s, but it was the Bundaberg Post Office that listed 353mm in 1934. 


Keen weather watcher Darryl Hampson from Bundaberg said only 18mm needed to fall in the next week to break the 87-year-old record. 


"We will break it that's for sure. Some rain gauges have probably already broken it," Mr Hampson said. 


In contrast, the November 2020 total was only 1mm.


Farmers rejoice


Skye Douglas, a beef farmer in the South Burnett, said they had been desperate for the rain.


"Our big dam that hadn't had any runoff since 2013 is now full and overflowing. It's fabulous," she said.


"The property is green, lush, and the grass is growing high.


"Things are really promising and the rain means that we don't need to sell any cattle for quite some time."


The Chairman of Bundaberg Canegrowers, Mark Pressler, said the rain would delay the harvest but the majority of Bundaberg growers were happy.


"The rain has created more positives than negatives," Mr Pressler said.


"The cane that's standing has taken a bit of a hit with the CCS sugar content but it's still very millable.


"Harvesting has come to a standstill at the moment. It has been enough to close the mills until at least next week."


Growers hope the paddocks will dry to wrap up the crush by mid-December.


"There's approximately 60,000 tonnes left in the Bundaberg area that is still millable," Mr Pressler said.


"The rain has been most welcome in recharging our Sunwater irrigation scheme.


"With this prolonged soaking rain we may even see some increase in groundwater allocation."


The widespread rainfall caused Paradise Dam to overflow, prompting Sunwater to increase irrigator allocations to 100 per cent. 


More rain on the way


The weather bureau declared a La Niña event earlier this week, which is expected to dump more rain across the state this summer than usual.


Mr Hanniffy said another weather system was expected later this week, bringing more heavy rain on Friday and early Saturday.


"We're looking at another round of potential showers and storms across the area," he said.


"You're looking at anywhere from 10-30 millimetres, but you could have some isolated falls of 50 and 60 millimetres, especially with storm activity."


It is too early to tell if the rainfall will be drought-breaking for the Bundaberg region, but Mr Hanniffy said it had helped soil moisture levels.


"It's essentially gone back to zero, or almost near-saturated, so any further rainfall will either flow straight into the catchments or sit around," he said.







- ABC

© ABC 2021

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