That BOM map shows in terms of percentage of averages where it’s been raining in Australia in December. In Queensland it has been up to six times and more compared to the average. This map shows the actual millimetres:
You may recall that we had SW Queensland awash back in March. Some parts at the eastern edge of that event have had a second dose this time. Also Central Queensland and Emerald in particular had major floods back in 2008.
Sundry facts make the mind reel. Emerald (pop. 12,000) is 80% under water.
According to The Brisbane Times:
DEVASTATING floods, inundating an area the size of France and Germany and costing the economy $6 billion are set to worsen over the weekend with 22 Queensland communities isolated.
Analysts predict the floods, which have affected more than 200,000 people, will cost the economy $6 billion, not including clean-up costs, with mining and agriculture the worst affected.
Some 38 local council regions have been declared disaster areas.
The town of Condamine (pop. 100) was totally evacuated to Dalby.
Theodore (pop.350) was totally evacuated to a mining camp at Moura. Around Theodore 100% of cotton crops will be lost.
Bundaberg (pop. 50,000) was cut in two.
The floods are yet to peak in Rockhampton (pop. 75,000). I heard one estimate that 4000 homes may need to be evacuated.
The ABC tell us there may be worse to come. Its true, of course, that it doesn’t normally rain all that much in Rockhampton before Christmas. The wettest months would tend to be January to March. That last sentence is true of Brisbane as well and the prevailing La Niña is expected to last through to autumn.
In many places the flood waters move slowly and it could be weeks before people get back into their homes. It’s crook when your home and your supermarket go under. Crook too when such essential infrastructure as the sewerage plant and the water purification plant are flooded. Dalby had fresh water problems while the town was flooded.
The 7.30 Report has had excellent coverage of the floods for the last few nights.
This pic shows Rockhampton locals on the important mission of saving a beer fridge or two:
Do you know that you can’t buy salt for your swimming pool on the east coast of Australia? Apparently it’s made in Rockhampton and the works are under water.
ABC local radio has been magnificent. They even put the cricket off the air in favour of an information service, very handy in keeping in touch with on-ground conditions and interviews with service providers.
Police have begun to lose patience and have charged some clowns who have put themselves in harm’s way.
The size of the area affected may take some city-dwellers a bit to get their head around. We are talking mainly about the Fitzroy Basin (the second largest in Australia, nearly as big as Victoria and over 700 km from north to south), the Burnett and the Condamine-Balonne.
In SEQ and Brisbane we’ve had plenty of rain as you can see from the map. There has been flash flooding in creeks and low areas where the drainage frankly, I think, is under-engineered. One charming manifestation has been the appearance of sewage in parks, yards and even homes. A bright spark from Urban Utilities opined that all that was to be expected since we’d had 57mm in one day. I wonder where they found him. That kind of precipitation is altogether normal in these parts!
Update: Thanks to commenter Blair, BOM has just published a special climate statement on the floods (and the rainfall leading up to them), which you can find here.
I’ve uploaded Figure 5 Flood peaks in eastern Australia over the period 26 November 2010 – 7 January 2011.