The recent torrential rains in southeast Queensland are not unprecedented. The Australian 24-hour rainfall record of 907 mm is still Crohamhurst in the Brisbane catchment recorded on 3rd February 1893. We don’t know how much rain fell at Crohamhurst in February 2022 because that weather station (#040062)) was closed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in March 2003.
The simulation models currently used by the Bureau have no skill at seasonal rainfall forecasting. Models based on pattern analysis of historical data would be more accurate. The reliable forecasting of exceptionally wet summers likely requires the monitoring of volcanic aerosols in the stratosphere, as well as accurate historic temperature and rainfall records.
In More Detail
After devastating flooding along the east coast of Australia, the Climate Council has put out a media release calling for action on climate change: that the Australian government mandate renewable energy and build an economy free from fossil fuels. This is no solution. And it is worth remembering that their Chief Councillor, Tim Flannery, gave advice not so long ago that it would never flood again – that Australia was doomed to eternal drought. It should be obvious by now that the armchair environmentalists haven’t a clue when it comes to the weather.
For these true believers, it is too awful to even consider that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) could be exaggerating global warming by changing all the historical temperature measurements until the cooling to 1960 is changed to warming. Over the last twenty years remodelling of the historical temperature data by the Bureau has stripped away the cycles, so even cool years now add warming to the official trend. In denying the very nature of Australia’s climate, which is dominated by wet and dry cycles, the experts are unable to anticipate extremely wet weather because they have lost all sense of history.
February 2022 was extremely wet in southeast Queensland, where I live. The city of Brisbane flooded again. There were tens of thousands of homes inundated. It is a tragedy. This is the second time in eleven years.
The flooding in 2011 was caused by the emergency release of water from Wivenhoe Dam, a dam built for flood mitigation following devastating flooding in 1974. The 2011 flooding was the subject of a class action with the Queensland government, SunWater and SEQ Water (the dam operators) recently found negligent.
During the worst of the flooding this year the dam operator again kept releasing water as the city flooded. Though the torrential rains had stopped, water kept being released because the Bureau forecast that more – even worst – rain was imminent. Rain that never eventuated.
As usual, the Bureau’s skill at forecasting proved dismal with devastating consequences.
I benchmarked the skill of the Bureau’s simulation modelling for seasonal rainfall forecasting in a series of papers with John Abbot published in international peer-reviewed journals, conference papers, and as book chapters from 2012 to 2017. Our conclusion was that the Bureau’s simulation model POAMA, developed over a period of 20-years in collaboration with other IPCC-aligned scientists, had very limited skill at rainfall forecasting despite being run on an expensive supercomputer – the Bureau now has the largest supercomputer in the Southern Hemisphere, but the skill of their rainfall forecasting is not improving.
The Bureau’s simulation models are simply unable to forecast the big rainfall events at a reasonable lead time.
Management at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology continue to deny that reality at great cost and heartache to the Australian community.
There is a growing body of evidence showing the most skilful medium and long-term rainfall forecasts are made using statistical models in combination with artificial intelligence. These are the models that John Abbot and I were developing from February 2011 – following the January 2011 flooding that I foresaw as avoidable had the Bureau warned the dam operators of the impending wet summer.
At that time, back in late 2010, it was evident from the very high Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) that we were likely to experience a very wet summer. But there was no preparation – Wivenhoe Dam was kept full of water until it was too late.
This last summer it was not as obvious that we were going to experience torrential flooding rains. It could be that the relatively mild La Nina conditions this year across the South Pacific were made worse by an atmosphere exceptionally high in volcanic aerosols from the explosion of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai a month earlier.
Very high rainfall totals in Hong Kong in 1982 correlate with the arrival of stratospheric aerosol plumes from the eruption of El Chichon, which spewed 20 million tonnes of aerosol.
There are technical papers that explains how atmospheres high in aerosols can contribute to exceptionally high rainfall, but this literature is ignored by mainstream climate scientists who continue to run simulation models mistakenly emphasising the role of carbon dioxide in climate change.
To contrive a correlation between temperatures and carbon dioxide, temperatures are homogenised, as detailed in earlier posts in this series.
During the recent flooding of Brisbane, I was watching the rain gauge at Lowood on the Brisbane River (Station# 040120) just 10 kms downstream of the Wivenhoe Dam. A total of 240 mms fell on Saturday 26th February 2022 which was a record for Lowood for any one day since August 1887; when they began measuring daily rainfall at Lowood. Except there are not records for Lowood for the very wettest period on record in southeast Queensland, that is February 1893. It is likely that the rainfall gauge at Lowood was washed away back in February 1893!
If we consider the rainfall record for Crohamhurst that is also in the Brisbane catchment, but upstream of both the Wivenhoe and Somerset Dams, a truly staggering 2,046 mms fell between 31st January and 5thFebruary 1893.
The 24-hour record of 907 mms on 3rd February 1893 is the highest one-day rainfall total for anywhere in Australia. We will never know if this record was equalled or beaten in February 2022 because the Bureau has closed this weather station. It was closed in March 2003.
It is also unfortunate that despite a growing budget, and increasing concern about extreme temperatures, that the Bureau has closed the Charlotte Pass weather station which held the record for lowest daily minimum temperature in Australia. That weather station was closed in March 2015.
The most accurate weather prediction systems rely on statistical models using artificial intelligence software to elucidate patterns in historical data. So, the integrity of Australia’s temperature and rainfall record is paramount.
Yet both temperature and rainfall records are being constantly eroded by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Important weather stations are being closed, and the available temperature data remodelled stripping away evidence of past cycles of warming and cooling that correspond with periods of drought often broken with flooding rains. How the past cycles are removed from the temperatures series is detailed in Part 2 of this series.
There is nothing new under the sun when it comes to these climate cycles, and they continue to be perturbed by volcanic eruptions.
But we now have technocrats, bureaucrats and politicians more concerned with maintaining the illusion of catastrophic global warming than providing accurate daily or season weather forecasts. Despite an extraordinary improvement in computing power, the bureau remains wedded to simulation models and homogenised data despite better alternatives.
Back in 2014 an investigation of these issues was proposed by then Prime Minister Tony Abbot but prevented because of intervention by Environment Minister Greg Hunt. He argued in Cabinet that the credibility of the institution/the Bureau was paramount. Greg Hunt argued that it is most important theAustralia public have trust in the Bureau’s data and forecasts, so the public heed weather warning. No consideration was given to the accuracy, or otherwise, of these warning.
I wrote to Senator Simon Birmingham in August 2018, then the Minister responsible for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, explaining that the Bureau’s seasonal forecasts are terrible, and I proposed solutions. By then I had authored peer-reviewed publications detailing the skill of alternative techniques for rainfall forecasting.
The Senator never gave my proposed solutions any consideration. I continued to forecast seasonal rainfall using artificial neural networks that are a form of artificial intelligence until early 2018, when a contract with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) was terminated. This followed the Bureau’s refusal to allow me to meet with them in Melbourne, as part of delegation including senior Indonesian meteorologists. I am no longer forecasting seasonal rainfall, but would be keen to recommence with appropriate resourcing and in collaboration with the Bureau.
I was in Brisbane last Thursday afternoon (March 3, 2022), helping with the clean-up from the latest flooding of garages in Sandford Street, St Lucia. The group I was working with insisted on downing-tools at 2pm because of the Bureau’s weather warning that described our situation as ‘dangerous’ and ‘potentially life threatening’ while repeating a severe thunderstorm warning. The Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, was broadcast across news radio urging parents to waste no time collecting their children from school.
All the while the sun kept shinning and I kept battling the mud. Not a drop of rain fell from the sky, nor was there any thunder. As I drove out of Brisbane that evening, on my way home, the flash flooding forecast for that same afternoon was cancelled by the Bureau. Next, on the radio there was discussion about the ‘Rain Bombs’ of five days earlier. How they had been ‘unprecedented’. More than one metre of rain had fallen at some locations in just a few days. There was no mention of the more than two metres of rain that fell at Crohamhurst in early February 1893.
This is Part 4, of the series ‘Australia’s Broken Temperature Record’.
Theo Moret says
Thanks, the government use of the word “unprecedented” and “once in a hundred years” clearly indicate their ignorance. Surely we don’t want ignorant people governing!
John Barr says
It’s the 11 year +/- cycle.
John W Batnes says
This shows that the real disaster is the unaccountability of the BOM & the shameful dereliction of Ministerial responsibility to act. I will write to politicians I know to ask why?
John W Barnes says
This shows that the real disaster is the unaccountability of the BOM & the shameful dereliction of Ministerial responsibility to act. I will write to politicians I know to ask why?
Don Gaddes says
You are exactly right about the influence of the recent major Tongan eruption on the current flood profiles. The Coral Sea atmospheric conditions are already predisposed to a Wet/Normal Period. When the intense heat source and resulting aerosols of a major eruption are combined with a Wet/Normal Period – we get a cyclonic influence from the North-east linking with an East Coast Low. Remember these aerosols travel around the planet from East to West, (North-east to South-east, in the Southern Hemisphere,)with the Earth’s Axial Spin. This effect happens more frequently from the Indonesian Southern Hemisphere eruptions.
To say this is a one-in-a-thousand year flood is naive in the extreme. it can happen any time there is a major Southern Hemisphere eruption – especially in the Wet/Normal Periods between Dry Cycles.
Don Gaddes says
That should read ‘North-west to South-east, in the Southern Hemisphere’.
It should be pointed out that the same thing happens in the Northern Hemisphere – from South-west to North-east.
The Dry Cycles and the interim Wet/Normal Periods orbit the planet simultaneously in both Hemispheres, though it is the Dry Cycles that actually move.
Dave Ross says
Excellent piece again Jennifer but your sweeping statement that the 2011 flooding was caused by the emergency releases from Wivenhoe is incorrect and misleading.
The extent and degree of the flooding in Brisbane, was certainly worse than if the the drinking water compartment had been low and the flood mitigation compartment completely empty,(as before this recent flood).
But the massive inflows from the Lockyer Valley (remember Grantham) and the Bremer River, uncontrolled by Wivenhoe/Somerset dams made the difficult task of preventing overtopping of them both difficult, near impossible without a degree of flooding no matter what the levels before the weather event.
I take your point that the weather forecasting that the dam operators rely on is pathetic and surely BOM must take a big chunk of the blame for the extent of the floods.
BTW the negligence finding is under appeal – hopefully this will shine further light on the bungling BOM,
On a side note, Greg Hunt is a paramount bureaucratic globalist. Each Ministerial portfolio he has inhabited and then moved on from, he leaves a discernable pattern behind.
My optimism dropped when he was named Minister for Resources since that particular portfolio impinges right across my area of professional expertise. I then expected no good would be seen from Hunt’s tenure of this portfolio, like Gareth Evans (Whitlam govt) complaining that Resources was just pipes and holes.
Then he moved (was moved ?) to Health. Again, my optimism dropped, this time because the common investment in health services would likely be damaged.
And his pattern ? Each time he handles a portfolio, then moves on to another before his mid-term results are seen, that area sees increased bureaucratic controls over activities and funding. In short, he persistently increases the power of the bureaucracy. This is quite in keeping with preventing an external audit of the BoM since this would likely damage its’ reputation. Of course he was chosen by the WEF as an “up and coming young leader”.
I am aware he is leaving domestic politics in a few months. I suspect he will turn up in a UN environmental bureaucracy somewhere, perhaps aided by our former Finance Minister ?
The lock-step linking of the floods to “climate change” thunders on relentlessly in the LSM. THEIR ABCess is a prime offender. “Climates” have been “changing” since the planet coalesced out of a huge blob of white-hot dust and gas, some time back.
The concept (and reality) of pre-saturation is studiously avoided. I am a bit young to have been in the 1893 floods (plural) but I was here for 1974, 2011 and the current caper.
ALL of these have involved high soil saturation levels before the “main event”. The 1890s also saw come spectacular ocean activity along the coast, with Stradbroke Island becoming formally and geographically separated into the current North and South editions… The monster drought that followed all that rain was one of the driving influences behind the huge Australian volunteer enlistment rate at the beginning of WW1. It was not just all about the currently despised “God, King and Country”. The highest volunteer enlistment rate, per capita, of ANY country in that war.
Furthermore, what sort of loony builds huge suburbs on flood plains that still show signs of the last inundation.
How much loot changed hands for a government body to rezone clearly flood-prone “pastoral” land to “residential”? ALWAYS FOLLOW THE MONEY!!
The determined blocking of the construction of a couple of dams for drinking water also contributed to all of this.
And all of this is just in a small corner of South-East Queensland. Others will have to dig into the NSW situation.
One other thing that is becoming more irritating every day is the manipulative airing of “victims” bitching because the Army arrived too late.
Let’s get a couple of things straight, right now.
The PRIMARY role of the ADF is to kill, maim and destroy to enforce government policy. (Diplomacy by other means). Hopefully, this will not involve open warfare on Australian soil. Far too many people think of them as a sort of armed SES.
I watched a bunch of CH-47 Chinooks fly over yesterday, apparently on their way to Sydney. That little exercise will probably blow the entire airframe life and fuel budget for the next couple of years. And the ADF only has a handful on the flight-line at any one time. They are also getting old. The original purchase of 21? was back in the very early 1970’s. When they arrived, the great hero, E. G. Whitlam ordered them “mothballed”, and they sat cocooned in a hangar at Amberley for years. We are NOT “led” by serious people. Serious ratbags, certainly, but few if any, with the actual interests of constituents or country at heart.
Floods: The area of land covered by roads, houses, commercial, etc has significantly increased AFTER each flood, further increasing the runoff rate. Thus, the rivers fill VERY rapidly and then break their banks at high flow. People also seem to ignore the simple fact that waterways are NOT two-dimensional. It is not just the rainfall in the upper catchment that is the problem. Consider all the little creeks, fed, these days, by thousands of storm water drains, all along the length of the river. Then thee are the tides, which have a fascinating tendency to be “high” when the stream flows are getting serious. That big rock in the sky is a major player, along with the solar cycles that influence precipitation.
There is no doubt that this flood is not unprecedented, given the floods of over 8M in 1843 and 1893. However, the IMPACT of this flood, and that of 2011, would be far greater than the 19th century floods. This is because there is a far greater number of people in Brisbane, far more property and infrastructure lost, than in the 19th century. But those historical floods are a warning that we need to be much better prepared for the inevitable future floods.
I read climate change 2020 and found such a refreshing change from all the BS a that we hear on main stream media, it’s a pit all these so called climate experts ( ie the greens and others) don’t pick up a copy of this excellent book. Thanks to Jennifer, Peter Ridd and others, the truth is out there but the green alliance won’t except anyone else’s ideas. If we want a real debate in Australia, then we need people likeJennifer and Peter at the for front. Tim Flannery sold himself out to the devil
Dave Ross says
Some good points there.
I was one of the technical group that fought against the Traveston Crossing Dam.
I imagine that is one of the drinking water dams you refer to.
Joh’s engineers had a look at it back in the day as flood mitigation facility.
Also the Goss government had a sniff around it but rejected it too.
You just know Joh would have built it if it had measured up.
His government built Wivenhoe after all.
But Beattie blasted on against the advice of senior engineers and was guided by two senior bureaucrats in particular, neither engineers.
The project failed for a range of reasons including not meeting approval under the EPBC act.
Somehow the dam that was built at that time seems to have been overlooked by the Andrew Bolts of the world – they keep repeating that there has been no dam built since Wivenhoe.
The Wyaralong Dam, near Beaudesert was completed but has not supplied a teaspoon of potable water to the Scenic Rim that it was designed to do.
The water it holds back is “hard water “ – far too high in calcium compounds for domestic reticulation standards so would need a pretty impressive, read very expensive, water treatment plant to deal with it.
And to top it off, construction earthworks cut into a saline aquifer making water treatment even more comprehensive, and expensive.
So dams need to be carefully considered, and not by politicians.
Ted O'Brien (Not the politician) says
Jennifer, surely Wivenhoe is not exclusively for flood control. What would Brisbane have done for water in the drought without it?
About your call on Lowood. I suspect the 9am split has reduced your registration. How much fell in the 48 hours?
On the day that Toowoomba was flooded I was due to travel 850km from central nsw to Ipswich above flood level. As we were about to leave our daughter rang to say don’t come, the way it is raining you will never get here. So we stayed.
I don’t recall when the news took me to the computer, but on the second morning I sat and watched as rain again fell across the Wivenhoe catchment at 50mm an hour for at least four hours.
It appeared to me that people were so shocked by the Toowoomba and Lockyer event that for two hours they failed to notice the new rainfall event that was happening.
It was a travesty that this issue ever went to lawfare. Wivenhoe was managed marvellously well in the circumstances. The flood was caused by a most extraordinary rainfall event, not by the dam.
I got a very small chuckle as I read the report of the management for this flood. It seemed that the book has been rewritten to suit the 2011 flood, and this might have slightly reduced the efficiency in the management of this flood.
From any perspective this February’s rainfall has been extraordinary, but not unprecedented.
I received 619mm against an average of 123mm, quite a downpour here between Beenleigh & Beaudesert, south of Brisbane.
However the official rainfall from the Bureau of Meteorology for Beaudesert, just 16Km away shows
550mm for February 1954 AND
674mm for February 1893.
This gives a comparison between 2022 & 1893
I wonder if it was SUVs or Coal fired power stations causing this extraordinary rainfall 129 years ago.
What would be really extraordinary would be if it did not happen again, whether we burn coal or cattle dung to cook our dinner.
Don Gaddes says
Where is the Bradfield Scheme? One hundred years and still the political gabfest goes on!
A string of dams down the East Coast, linked to West of the Range catchments, would seem eminently sensible for the agricultural security of this country.
The other part of Bradfield’s vision was arguably even more significant – a pipeline from South Australia to direct seawater into the interior, thus creating an inland sea and an evaporation expanse that would enhance rainfall to the East. Apparently one argument was, ‘Water will not flow downhill’…..????
Karl Penna says
It’s easy to change words, ie: a lot of rain or unprecedented rain, severe bushfires or catastrophic bushfires, the left leaning press uses these words to make people think we are in for alarming times and this conditions people to say yes to whatever the governments, press and left alliance of greens and labor say, we forget that commonsense indicates this earth has been changing ever since it was formed, commonsense tells us to think before we react emotionally. Commonsense tells us that there are 4 seasons not climate change and if someone like Peter Ridd says hey the reef isn’t dying then they are howled down, many thanks for a better comment with a lot truth and FACTS in your article
It is abundantly clear from the geological record that the “middle” of Australia once hosted a serious inland “sea”. The dinosaur fossil record around Winton is part of that.
I’m not a rock-doctor, nor have I ever played one on TV, but the presence of “fossilized” foot prints on TOP of a rocky “jump-up”, several hundred feet above the arid plains, is interesting to contemplate. The mechanics of small and very large footprints being “preserved” for millions of years raises questions about continental drift, huge vertical land movements,, etc. How did muddy footprints stay “structurally sound’ long enough to be gently filled in by settling dust (water would have erased them). A VERY long drought? What depth of “overlay” is required to develop the necessary pressure and heat to “metamorphose” the mud?
Always keep in mind that the Australian plate has been “traveling north” for hundreds of millions of years. Currently shoving Sumatra out of the way; the “hinge point” is the Sunda Strait / Krakatau). Next stop; India?
Or, are we at the stage where “questions without answers” are being systematically replaced by “answers” one is forbidden to question?
Don Gaddes says
I agree with you Bruce.
It is a far stretch to advocate the dinosaurs were rendered extinct by an asteroid strike.
The evidence of fossils being found in sedimentary deposits would indicate the likely scenario involved a prolonged drought and famine.
As for the “dinosaurs”: there are several “extinctions”. Part of the problem is how unlikely it is for ANY remains to exist to this day. And the tattered remnants of the dinosaurs seem to have been the progenitors of all of the current bird-life.
Not necessarily “zapped” overnight, though a stray lump of rock or a comet making an arrival at 40, 000 Km/H would certainly leave a mark.
There is probably a good reason for several “circular” shorelines adjacent to deep water.Om a smaller scale, the Bay of Naples appears to be an ancient caldera of a serious volcano closely related to the system that drives Vesuvius.
One of the more interesting dinosaur fossils I have seen is in a specialized Fossil
Park in the NW USA. They have built a huge shed over the “dig”, which is packed with dinosaur fossils, many just random bones. 24/7, on-site Paleontology lab; impressive
One skeleton stood out, though.
It was your basic horse-sized “raptor-looking” beast; pretty much a complete skeleton. However, the skeleton was odd in that the long tail and neck were arched to form a crescent. It had apparently died elsewhere, or possibly drowned in the flood that deposited it. The “arching” is, apparently, quite common after death as the tendons shrink whilst still attached to bones. It was deposited in soft silt that eventually became a “soft-ish” rock. Every bone was exactly where it should have been. Apparently, many fossil finds are missing their heads. Possibly scavengers; the head contained a lot of juicy morsels that take a bit of effort to extract; tear it off the neck and slink away to a lair for some crunchy fun. Observing the dining behaviours of feral pigs and dingoes in the wild is enlightening.
What I do on my holidays…..
There have been a few “interesting” events in “post dinosaur” times. All those deep-frozen mammoths in Siberia? Some with mouthfuls of half-chewed vegetation? That indicates VERY sudden death. Given something like a small comet strike; being close to ground zero basically mashed and flashed into oblivion. The shockwave will be huge and supersonic to start with. Any living creature caught by that pressure front will die. Massive organ and nervous distortion as the wave smashes into you like a gigantic, supersonic fly-swatter. The pressure front will also churn up millions of tonnes of dust and toss it high in the atmosphere; instant winter.
The amazing preservation of the carcasses indicates that a lot of the likely scavenger critters died at the same time and their bodies were all buried in a steady shower of dust and snow. Even today, if you break a leg in the “wilderness”, without having food, water, medical skills and such, your bones will be stripped of flesh and scattered within days or weeks. And in many places, the “scavengers” will not wait for you to officially “shuffle off” before chewing on your flesh.
Otto Ambros says
I guess no weather event is “unprecedented” if you can find a slightly more extreme example, the more important point is whether a more timely and accurate forecast is possible. Presumably your work could have predicted this. It would settle the whole BOM controversy if you publish your predictions for the next couple of years and they cannot argue.
Thanks for the information. Rainfall even in a small area can vary. I can give you the daily figures at the Buderim Post Office 040031 which is 22.0 km from Crohamhurst 040062 for 1893. On 31st Jan there was 197.6mm, 1st Feb 453.6mm, 2nd Feb 241.3 mm & 3rd Feb 257.8mm for a total of 1150.3mm for the 4 days. The rainfall for all Jan was 507.9mm, all of Feb 1819.1mm and all March 412.4mm for the year 1893 it was 3848.1. This however was not the wettest year which was 1898. The total for 4days 8th to 11th Jan was 1119.9mm The whole of Jan had 1384.1 mm, Feb 427.3mm and all of March 1189.4 mm. The whole year of 1898 had 3996.9mm (I estimated one missing day in October 1898 from data of surrounding areas such as Nambour bowls)
I would like add something which could be the subject of a separate post. I have estimated from 128 yrs of rain data in the Buderim area including in recent years my own measurements. That monthly rainfall follows a Poisson Distribution in which the average and standard deviation are approximately equal. (the minimum is zero). I note that in wiki there is a table which gives the incidents of 100 yr overflows which has that lambda for SD and avg is 1. I have looked that my monthly totals. For Jan, Feb and March the average and SD is close to 250mm. I note that floods appear to occur when the monthly total (over overlapping monthly totals such as part Dec 2010 and part Jan 2011) exceed 750mm or 3 SD. The rainfall in Jan 1898, Feb 1893 and Mar 1898 in excess of 4 & 5SD is extraordinary. Could someone work out the probabilities in terms of years of occurrence with a Poisson Distribution for 4, 5 6, &7 SD monthly rainfall.
It appears that BOM is incapable of looking back at records and analysing causes.
ROBERT GILLILAND says
Dave Ross, were the proposed dams on the Mary during Joh’s and Wayne Goss’s tenure also slated for the Traveston area? Anyway the dam would not have reduced the flood at Gympie by much as the majority of the water came down the 6 Mile and Deep Creeks almost at Gympie itself. Rainfall at Maleny was about 40% of that which fell at Cromanhurst about 7km away in 1893.
Yes – the proposed dam site, the darling of public servants and politicians but not of engineers, was always Traveston Crossing.
It would have been just another expensive disaster just like Paradise and Wyaralong dams are.