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77 responses to “Queensland floods”

  1. BilB

    Which would make the affected area equal to the total size also of Pakistan. It seems we into hemisphere tit for tat weather extremes.

  2. BilB

    Certainly not a mirror, Brian, but the influences as you point out in many ways are the same.

    Increasing ocean temperature

    Increased atmospheric H2O

    Melting ice caps

    Increased atmospheric energy due to CO2 trapping and CH4.

    I hadn’t figured in the atmospheric H2O increase, but that fits very well with the outcomes.

    Did you see the presentation by Dr Tony Haymet the head of SCRIPPS institution last night or yesterday? Absolutely no comfort there. The same, more of the same, and even more of the same ^2, is what we have to look forward to. Dr Haymet had no words of encouragement for the geoengineers amoungst us.

  3. pablo

    The 4000 Rockhampton homes that are anticipated to go under with a flood peak on Tuesday is a staggering situation particularly if the flood level is expected to linger. Shots of fast flowing floodwaters are an added concern and the $1 million pledge of Queensland and Federal Governments won’t go far. As natural disasters go we could be looking at a very big one, perhaps deserving of an inquiry to assess preparedness, levees, building codes etc,. The Darwin cyclone comes to mind.

  4. Paul Burns

    Just hope people caught in the floods are as okay as can be.

  5. Paul Burns

    Brian @ 8,
    I try to imagine how I would cope in their situation, and I reckon I’d be gutted. Don’t think i’d have that stoicism if I lost my books and notes. DVD, TV set top Box, okay you can always get a new one -but offer stuff, no.
    I also think of renters who can’t ensure and lose heaps. The situation is terrible for these people. I’ll have to send some money next pension day or something. Probably a bank down here I can go into and donate something.

  6. TerjeP

    As a kid I loved floods because it usually meant the road to town was closed and the bus couldn’t take us to school. Instead we would go looking for turtles and the like along the edge of the floodplain. I hope those in the midst of the misery manage to find some such simple delights. Although obviously it’s tough when your livelihood is on the line.

    Thanks for the cool maps.

  7. Katz

    That area of zero rain in the middle of Cape York is weird.

  8. TerjeP

    Presumably all this water will be good for our river systems.

  9. John Atkinson

    “That area of zero rain in the middle of Cape York is weird.”

    Compare it with the other map, which shows around 300% for that place. It’s obviously an input error, someone has entered zero for one particular station when it should have been a couple of hundred mm.

  10. BilB

    Brian, I’m not convinced by “a kink in the jet stream” theory. The way that I am perceiving it there are various “opinions”, so I’m sticking with the “what goes up must come down” thinking. Low pressure cells are uppers and high pressure cells are downers. A downer will be to the west of an upper and in a roughly similar time frame usually. I look for couples of similar mass flow.

  11. Patricia WA

    If we can deliver NBN to every home on the continent why can’t we pipeline some of that lovely water over here? C Y OConnor got it right over a hundred years ago, piping water with a pipeline you can stil touch and understand today, from Kalgoorlie to Perth. So is it really impractical to view that exponentially and to consider it as a national option?

    Remembering his suicide in 1902, after years of dealing with criticism and political struggle, let’s hope the NBN gets completed without similar tragedy.

  12. Crass

    We’re all right where we are in Rocky, but the floods mean that the supermarkets are very short of basic food items like milk and bread, and we haven’t seen potatoes or onions for several days (we are lucky that my husband seems to consider us always on the verge of an onion crisis and buys heaps at a time). The river is looking pretty scary, most of the suburb of Depot Hill is underwater, the airport is now closed and highways north, south and west are impassable. Apparently in the past, food has come up via barge from Gladstone to Rosslyn Bay. There’s also some talk that the waste treatment and water treatment plants might be under threat this time.

    What worries me now is what happened in the 2009 floods – the bloody coal mines pumping out all of the toxic water into the river systems, as well as higher food prices from all of the produce that was ruined in Bundaberg. I don’t imagine we’ll be seeing cheap tomatoes for some time.

  13. Robert Merkel

    Patricia, because pumping water that far is too costly. It’s cheaper to just desalinate locally, as Perth already does.

    See this old but pertinent article from John Quiggin about Colin Barnett’s canal proposal back in 2005.

  14. Patricia WA

    Thanks for your response, Robert. It helps simplistics like me understand more of the realities of these things. Interesting that Barnett was something of a visionary in his earlier years.

  15. FDB

    PatWA – the Kalgoorlie pipeline only works economically because it literally leads to a goldmine.

  16. John D


    Have you any data to back your claim @13. I know that mines did/do? pump saline water during heavy river flows but i doubt you could measure the effect. Rest of the time most mines are expected to keep water from pits and washeries within the lease.

  17. Tony Martyr

    Brian, the “mine pumping” stuff is a beat up. It gets trotted out now every time there is a flood, never with any evidence, and it just starts to become an urban myth (“So data, no, but suspicions, yes”).

    It’s based mainly on what happened at Ensham Mine during the 2008 flood. Their levee with the Nogoa River broke through and flooded the pit. Some of the water was pumped back whence it came (the Nogoa). No discernable effect but a gold mine to dark suspicions. And a massive increase in the size, complexity and constraints of the Water Management sections of the Environmental Authority agreements for every mine in the Bowen Basin (as well as a bunch of lessons that allowed improvements in flood preparation).

    I think you may be surprised (and possibly impressed) by the amount of work that goes into water management and flood preparation at mines. (COI Alert – I work in a Bowen Basin coal mine)

  18. still@downfall

    Today in these parts high in the Fitzroy watershed, we have again gained road acess out. Still no landline as it was washed out where one creek that has deepened & widened itself; it brought down big river gums which were undermined. Road damage is everywhere.

    The mines in CQ are pumping out contaminated water into the river system. Futher south in the Surat basin gas fields I have photos of evaporation ponds going under floodwater & of course concentated salts flushed out. Another photo of a drillrig & camp going under in a flood in these parts earlier in the month. The landowner asked them not to drill there showed them the debri from previous floods against the trees. Of course these CSG companies know more than any local landowner.

  19. Crass

    Brian & JD, the Morning Bulletin did some research on this during the last floods – from what I remember, there was a significant amount of nasty stuff pumped into the river by the local mining companies. However, any criticism of these fine corporate citizens is suppressed pretty quickly ’round these parts.

  20. FDB

    Assuming that the allowable level of contaminants pumped is relative to the amount of water flowing, what exactly is the problem with increasing outflows when there’s loads of water to dilute them?

  21. David McRae

    Scary stuff still@downfall

    This picture from the 2009 wet shows a creek bed dried out after contamination. FDB, this stuff can’t be good

  22. David McRae

    Edit: And it was Brian’s posts in 2009 that had showed that picture I linked to above.

    (BTW, your posts Brian are always very informative and a great read – ty again)

  23. Polyquats

    The mine pumping is not a beat up. You can find the report of the 2008 Ensham Mine at http://www.fitzroyriver.qld.gov.au/ if you’re interested. Dept of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) put out a press release just prior to Christmas on its plans to manage mine releases during the flood events.
    There are over 30 mines in the Fitzroy Basin, a small (but increasing) number of CSG fields and at least one other enterprise with tailing dams of unknown but dubious quality.
    A large flood does mean that releases, deliberate or accidental, will be diluted. But that is hardly an excuse for poor on-site waste management and containments. Plus there are cumulative impacts when there so many operators in a single basin.
    There is also the possibility that releases may continue into a rapidly dropping water levels. Plus the fact that at least one of the rivers in the Fitzroy has been known to flow backwards in certain flood conditions.
    Disclosure: I work for the Qld Govt (but not DERM). I can only comment on stuff that is on the public record.

  24. Jenine

    Does anybody know if donations of clothing are being accepted? With their shops under water, money from the governmnet seems useless for their immediate situation.

  25. Robert

    At a rough estimate off the BOM Qld river catchment map the flooded catchments are about 500,000 sq km, well short of the 900,000 sq km for France and Germany combined as has been reported. And not all of a catchment would be under water either. And why not give the area in terms of actual sq kms anyway?

    I read in the book “Running Down” (about Australian rivers)that the Dawson river valley has been extensively cleared and shaped for broad scale agriculture, with weirs and dams accumulating large silt loads. I wonder what effect this has had on the level of flooding?

  26. Michael Kelly

    Not to downplay the terrible problems of the flooding by any means, but I am reading this line of comments from San Francisco and wondering where all these intelligent and civilized comments are coming from. If this was in the US on Yahoo, there would be 300 comments and most would be arguing with each other, calling names and misspelling every third work.

    Nice sense of community and balance of science and opinion, too. I’m impressed, again, with Australia and Australians.

  27. FDB

    Very tactful Brian. I believe the words “Mountain” and “Heights” should have been enough.

    Although it’s possible that people are being evacuated in Eagle Heights. If they’ve got some serious bowel prolems, e.g.

  28. su

    Four mining companies including MMG Century, responsible for that green slurry in the picture linked above, were charged and fined for illegal discharges of toxic waste during the 2009 wet. Not a beatup at all.

  29. Patricia WA

    Robert and Brian, does this mean that the ‘inquest’ on these floods is like to produce a report suggesting they are ‘man made’ – and we’ll have the denialists coming out in force?

  30. Katz

    Here is a satellite photo of how much water is flowing through Qld.

  31. BilB

    By the way

    has John Howard come forward to appologise for his beligerant environmental inaction over those vital last chance 11 years when had he been a true leader and acted in the best interests of Australia rather than his dogma these floods may well have been far less severe.

    Having seen Tony Abbott reviewing the scene from a helicopter saying it is importnat to “hold the government to account” for the way that the flood is handled. It is far more important to hold Tony Abbott to account for his part in eliminating our last chance to establish any sort of carbon release retardation action.

    Lets be absolutely clear as these tradgedies become worse and more frequent There is responsibility to be taken, and culprits to be blamed, and shame to be assigned.

    Lets start the list of Australia’s environmental criminals

    John Howard
    Tony Abbott
    Andrew Bolt
    Please fill in the blanks with the names of environmental beligerants that you are aware of.

    There is a lot of room in between there for the faceless buerocrats and lobbyists who have intentionally blocked and frustrated environmental action for personal interest.

    Make no mistake as your insurance rates escalate, your food prices climb, your property is damaged, your job becomes unstable, your children become fearful for their future, that all of these losses can be sheeted home to the intentional failures of these people who chose to ignore the desperate urgings of the world’s scientific body, declaring in the so doing that they “knew better”.

  32. Paul Burns

    Brian @ 41,
    The Head Honcho of Qld. emergency services was downplaying the number of deaths on ABC TV 2, this morning. His argument was that at this time of year these kinds of drownings occur in Qld anyway, due to the Big Wet/CXyclones, etc. Even more odd was the weird story of Anna Bligh declaring on the Qld. 7.30 Report that Rockhampton was completely cut off when both emergency workers and the press were reporting this morning it had not been cut off from the north as yet.
    And, perhaps most disturbing, was the story on ABC TV that the commercial stations down south are simply not reporting in any depth on the Queensland floods, because its not as dramatic as, say, bushfires. Since I don’t watch commercial TV much, and certainly not recently,I can’t verify the accuracy of that charge. But if its true, then once again our media are not doing their job.

  33. Paul Burns

    Thanks, Brian.
    I also heard a who;e bunch of people went by ferry down to Gladstone, yesterday, I think.

  34. Peter

    The Elders weather site forecasts increased rain for the first 4 months of this year in both Queensland and northern/central NSW. As I mention on my blog, summer rain has now increased over these areas as all weather systems in the southern hemisphere have moved southwards. This is a long term change that started around 1971 and is likely to remain for a while. Unfortunately if true, this would suggest that summer flooding will occur again. Even if the risk of my being correct is small the consequences are devastating, so risk mitigation theory suggests some action. I suggest detailed study of recent weather patterns, and if necessary a think tank to plan government strategy for the future.

  35. Frith

    I second Michael Kelly’s comments, about how refreshing it is to read these balanced and reasoned posts. I grew up in Mackay and went to boarding school in Rockhampton, and have been looking all over the web for coverage of the floods, and this is by far the best I’ve seen. From Seattle, kudos to Larvatus Prodeo and thank you!

  36. Robert

    Thanks for the satellite photo Katz@43. Instead of misleading statements like “an area the size of NSW/France/France and Germany/France and Poland is under water”, as I have seen in the media so far, the satellite photo says it much more clearly. The rivers spread out maybe 50 km at their widest and the vast majority of the land is not under water, although it may be pretty wet and cut off. From satellite photos I saw of the Indus floods in Pakistan the area of the valley affected in Pakistan could have been much bigger. Still, it is an enormous flood and will be devastating to many. If Trenberth is correct (@49) these floods are likely to be more frequent. An article in the SMH today argues for new houses in these areas to be built on stilts- hard to argue with.

  37. Ootz

    A state government document I came across while checking for adjustments to Q100 levels in view of AGW Increasing Queensland’s resilience
    to inland ?ooding in a changing

    Interesting key recommendations

    Recommendation 1—Local governments should factor a 5 per cent increase in rainfall intensity per degree
    of global warming into the 1 per cent (Q100), 0.5 per cent (Q200) and 0.2 per cent (Q500) AEP ? ood events
    recommended in SPP 1/03 for the location and design of new development.
    Recommendation 2—The following temperatures and timeframes should be used for the purposes of applying
    the climate change factor in Recommendation 1:
    • 0C by 2050
    • 0C by 2070
    • 0C by 2100.

  38. Ootz

    Apologise for HTML formating above, why has LP not a comment preview?

  39. BilB

    Brian, the news services made the Germany/France area comparison.

  40. Blair

    The Bureau has just published a special climate statement on the floods (and the rainfall leading up to them) – at http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/special-statements.shtml.

  41. FDB

    Maybe they’re counting territorial waters? ;)

  42. Fran Barlow

    Apparently, months after the news focus on Pakistan’s devastating flooding has ebbed, the inundation has not. Significant parts of the country’s most fertile land remain under 10 feet of water and 200,000 people remain in various refugee camps.

    The torrents of water have disturbed unexploded ordinance and randomised it over the flood plain, just for extra fun.

  43. GregM

    Fran, I’d be very grateful if you could provide a link regarding the current situation following the Pakistan floods.

  44. Fran Barlow
  45. Fiona Reynolds

    This is dreadful. My sympathy to everyone touched by the floods in Queensland, and NSW, and WA.

  46. Casey

    To the people on this blog who are in the direct line of the coming floods in Brisbane, and who have been hit already by the floods up in Qld, my prayers are with you all. I am very very sorry to see the devastation. I am so shocked it happened so quickly.

    Im watching a seven news chopper who caught in their vision of the floods, a car with people in it and could do nothing about it as they are not a rescue crew. By the time the managed to pick a rescue expert, the car was gone. Agonising. I am so sorry.

  47. tigtog

    What Casey said. The flood damage before yesterday, while heartbreaking, seemed somehow not too abnormal. Horrible, but something I could kinda relate to. The flash flooding really shocked me. Those poor people.

    Take care of yourselves, everybody in those flood zones.

  48. Paul Burns

    I can only reiterate what others have said. This is shocking. My deepest sympathies to all Queenslanders caught in this national catasstrophe, but especially those on LP. Hope you are, at the least, all safe.
    There are reports of potential flashfloods in the Northern Tablelands, but only a generalised warning, no specific places, so so far all LP-ers in this district are probably okay. Not sure about Tamworth though. They usually cop it pretty bad even in normal years, though I hasten to add I have seen no reports. Will let you know if there are any developments.

  49. CJ Morgan

    A quick dispatch from the Granite Belt which, being at the top of the Great Dividing Range like Toowoomba, is not a place one normally associates with flooding.

    Stanthorpe is flooding, and they’re evacuating houses along the creek. Disturbingly, the SES is talking about farm dams bursting, not to mention Storm King Dam.

    Our little village is a bit further south, and a little higher, so we’re quite safe – but we’re isolated north and south and it’s still pissing down. Numerous trucks, caravans etc have created a couple of unofficial caravan parks by being forced to sit it out here for the last couple of days.

    I have the dubious honour of being the official recorder for BOM of our town’s rainfall, so I have to don the wet weather gear shortly and go out and read the rain gauge… should be interesting.

    Today was supposed to be the day the kids and I were to head down to the coast for a few days…

  50. Robert Merkel

    I’ve opened up a fresh thread.