Deadly flash flood hits Australia after six inches of rain fell in just 30 minutes

Scientists see climate change link to Australian floods

UPDATE:   “Climate change has likely intensified the monsoon rains that have triggered record floods in Australia’s Queensland state, scientists said on Wednesday, with several months of heavy rain and storms still to come.”

Flood-weary Queensland, Australia suffered a new flooding disaster yesterday when freak rains of six inches fell in just 30 minutes near Toowoomba. The resulting flash flood killed nine people and left 59 missing. The flood waters poured into the Brisbane River, causing it to overflow, and significant flooding of low-lying areas in Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city with some 2 million people, is expected on Thursday.

Here is a stunning video of the flooding:

Remarkable 5-minute YouTube video showing the sad fate of a row of parked cars when a nearby small stream experiences a flash flood, sweeping away dozens of the cars. A note to the wise: Two minutes into the video, we see a man enter the flash flood to save his car. He is successful, but his actions were extremely risky–most flash flood deaths occur when cars with people inside get swept away. I would not have attempted to save my car in that situation.

The wise advice comes from Meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters, who puts the flooding in context:

As I discussed last week, Australia had its wettest spring (September – November) since records began 111 years ago, with some sections of coastal Queensland receiving over 4 feet (1200 mm) of rain. Rainfall in Queensland and all of eastern Australia in December was the greatest on record, and the year 2010 was the rainiest year on record for Queensland. The ocean waters surrounding Australia were the warmest on record during 2010, and these exceptionally warm waters allowed much higher amounts of water vapor to evaporate into the atmosphere, helping fuel the heavy rains. The record warm ocean temperatures were due to a combination of global warming and the moderate to strong La Ni±a event that has been in place since July. Queensland typically has its rainiest years when La Ni±a events occur, due to the much warmer than average ocean temperatures that occur along the coast. Beginning in December, the Queensland floods have killed at least 19, and done $5 billion in damage. Queensland has an area the size of Germany and France combined.

I have also written about how the warmest sea surface temperatures on record fuel ‘biblical’ Australian floods

Annual Australian sea surface temperature timeseries

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology released its “Annual Australian Climate Statement 2010,” which helps explain why “” record sea surface temperatures:

Based on preliminary data (to November 30), sea surface temperatures in the Australian region during 2010 were +0.54 °C above the 1961 to 1990 average. This is the warmest value on record for the Australian region. Individual high monthly sea surface temperature records were also set during 2010 in March, April, June, September, October and November. Along with favourable hemispheric circulation associated with the 2010 La Ni±a, very warm sea surface temperatures contributed to the record rainfall and very high humidity across eastern Australia during winter and spring. The most recent decade (2001ˆ’2010) was also the warmest decade on record for sea surface temperatures following the pattern observed over land.

Dr. Kevin Trenberth, head of NCAR’s Climate Analysis Section, has explained the connection between human-caused global warming and extreme deluges:  “There is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms and it’s unfortunate that the public is not associating these with the fact that this is one manifestation of climate change. And the prospects are that these kinds of things will only get bigger and worse in the future.”

John Cook of Skeptical Science, “studied physics at the University of Queensland” and lives there.  He has some remarkable videos here and notes:

It’s times like this that I can’t help thinking of the words of NOAA scientist Deke Arndt, “Climate trains the boxer but weather throws the punches”. Weather will always throw these random punches at us. Occasionally it gets in a lucky punch that knocks us off our feet. But what we’re doing is training weather to throw harder punches at us and more often. That’s what is being observed and that’s what we expect to see more of in the future.

Anyone who wishes to help, you can Donate to the Queensland Government’s flood relief appeal.

The main ‘good’ news to come from all this rain, as the Bureau of Meteorology reports is,

Drought eases in the east but continues in the southwest

For some parts of the southeast 2010 was the first calendar year since 1996 to see above average rainfall. The heavy rainfall in 2010 marked a dramatic reversal of dry conditions across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Significantly, the Murray Darling Basin recorded its wettest year on record, ending a record sequence of below average rainfall years extending back to 2001. This rainfall led to a dramatic recovery in water storages across the Murray-Darling Darling Basin from 26% at the start of 2010 to 80% at the start of 2011.

From the point of view of surface water, soil moisture and annual rainfall totals; the “long dry” which commenced in late 1996 in the far southeast of mainland Australia and late 2001 across much of the Murray-Darling Basin has effectively ended.

In contrast to the rest of the continent, the southwest of Western Australia experienced a very dry year, continuing the long drying trend which extends back to the late 1960s. For the southwest region as a whole, the 2010 rainfall total was a record low 392 mm, well below the previous low of 439 mm in 1940. Rainfall in the cropping season (April to October) in southwest Western Australia also set a record with just 310 mm falling; the previous low was 348 mm in 1914.

The Big Dry is over, though there is still record drought in the SW:

2010 Australian rainfall deciles map

The question often gets asked here, how can you say global warming causes both intense rainfall and intense drought?  Cook dealt with the question this way

Q: It seems that climate scientists are suffering in the media from conflicting messages and predictions. every weather event from floods to blizzards are being blamed on global warming. a few years ago the news i heard was the global warming would cause drought, not massive rains.

Cook: Global warming leads to an intensification of the water cycle. Drought severity is increasing in some regions and extreme precipitation is increasing in other regions. These are not merely predictions – an increase in drought severity and extreme precipitation have both been observed.

Australia is a big place and the most arid habited continent in the world.  The South is going to be increasingly vulnerable to the predicted expansion of the subtropics.  “The unexpectedly rapid expansion of the tropical belt constitutes yet another signal that climate change is occurring sooner than expected,” noted one climate researcher in December 2007.  A 2008 study led by NOAA noted, “A poleward expansion of the tropics is likely to bring even drier conditions to” the U.S. Southwest, Mexico, Australia and parts of Africa and South America.”

At the same time, Queensland is obviously going to be subject to these intense floods — as are large parts of the rest of the world — because there is more water vapor over the ocean, aside from whatever long-term changes in the climate there are.

In this country, the scientific literature has already demonstrated that global warming is driving this intensification of the hydrological cycle, making droughts and deluges more extreme (see Study: Global warming is driving increased frequency of extreme wet or dry summer weather in southeast, so droughts and deluges are likely to get worse).

A new study by a Duke University-led team of climate scientists suggests that global warming is the main cause of a significant intensification in the North Atlantic Subtropical High (NASH) that in recent decades has more than doubled the frequency of abnormally wet or dry summer weather in the southeastern United States….

To forecast future trends in the NASH’s intensity, the team used climate models developed for use by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report in 2007. The models – known as  Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 3 (CMIP3) models – predict the NASH will continue to intensify and expand as concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases increase in Earth’s atmosphere in coming decades.

This intensification will further increase the likelihood of extreme summer precipitation variability – periods of drought or deluge – in southeastern states in coming decades,” Li says.

The worrisome part, as I’ve said many times, is that we’ve only warmed about a degree Fahrenheit in the past half-century.  We are on track to warm nearly 10 times that this century (see M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F “” with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F ).  And that’s just business as usual.  The plausible worst-case scenario is beyond comprehension:

Drought and deluge “” Hell and High Water “” we ain’t seen nothing yet!

UPDATE:  Climate Central has a nice piece, “Ocean Temperatures Show Possible Climate Change Connection to Australian Flooding.”

Related Posts:

76 Responses to Deadly flash flood hits Australia after six inches of rain fell in just 30 minutes

  1. Colorado Bob says:

    Sydney – Power was cut to Brisbane homes for safety reasons Wednesday, and residents were ordered to higher ground as Australia’s third-biggest city braced for its worst soaking in living memory.

    In Ipswich, 30 kilometres to the south-west and with a population of 140,000, a third of the city was underwater as the flood advanced on Queensland’s state capital.,brisbane-awaits-deadly-flood.html

  2. Sou says:

    Good article. One correction though. Dr Jeff Masters is quoted as saying: ‘Queensland has an area the size of Germany and France combined.’

    In fact, Queensland is much bigger than that at 1,734 thousand sq km.

    For comparison, France (547 thousand sq km) and Germany (357 thousand sq km) combined is just over half as big as Queensland at 904 thousand sq km; Texas is 696 thousand sq km and California is 404 thousand sq km (Texas + California combined is a bit more than France and Germany combined and Queensland is more than half as big again).

    The area of Queensland affected by flooding is probably more than the size of France and Germany combined. Add in the portion of NSW that is now being inundated and your probably getting closer to the size of Texas and California combined.

  3. Colorado Bob says:

    Manila, Jan 12 (IANS) At least 40 people have been killed and over one million displaced in flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains in central and southern Philippines, officials said Wednesday.

  4. Colorado Bob says:

    Food prices in Australia could rise by as much as 30% in the coming months as a result of the Queensland floods, it has been warned.

  5. John Mason says:

    Aye – a degree Fahrenheit gives 4% more precipitable water (a degree C gives about 6%). Each and every one.

    If you think of the atmospheric moisture as the lump sum and the warming factor as the interest, every time you up the temperature by 1C you get an extra 6% precipitable water added to your account. Hope to hell we can keep it to 2C or the bank statements will not look good, unless you can pretend they’re really your money!

    Cheers – John

  6. Colorado Bob says:

    Nearly 1 million people affected in Sri Lanka floods

    What is worse is that the livelihood of the victims is likely to be affected with more than one third of the country’s paddy productions coming from the flooded districts.

    About 40000 acres of paddy cultivation has already been damaged.

  7. Colorado Bob says:

    RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 12 (Reuters) – At least 61 people were killed when heavy rains triggered landslides and destroyed buildings in towns in a mountainous area near the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, officials said on Wednesday.

  8. Greg says:


    The statistic you cite of 6% has been used to explain the greater rains we’ve seen recently and I can’t argue with the physics. However, these increasingly frequent extremely heavy and rapid rainfalls are orders of magnitude greater than single digit percents. It seems that the atmospheric story must be more complicated. These storms now not only hold more water but seem to be holding it in localized areas of the storm and then releasing it more rapidly in very localized areas on the ground. Can you, or anyone else, cite anything that is published that better explains this as the 4% or 6% doesn’t cognitively match with the sheer volumes and brief intensities of these storms? Thanks

  9. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    After watching that video, I took a good look at my surroundings. Even three or four inches of rain would decimate this town. Not a good thought. The town sits in a valley surrounded by cliffs and there’s only one place for the water to go…into town.

    Seems like our sense of security may be up for alteration in the future, no matter where you live, with these big rains. The center no longer holds…

  10. Takver says:

    Very good article by David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia for reuters who contacted several scientists for comment on climate change link to Australian floods, including Kevin Trenberth

    “The rapid onset of La Nina meant the Asian monsoon was enhanced and the over 1 degree Celsius anomalies in sea surface temperatures led to the flooding in India and China in July and Pakistan in August,” he told Reuters in an email.

    He said a portion, about 0.5C, of the ocean temperatures around northern Australia, which are more than 1.5C above pre-1970 levels, could be attributed to global warming.

    “The extra water vapor fuels the monsoon and thus alters the winds and the monsoon itself and so this likely increases the rainfall further,” said Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

    “So it is easy to argue that 1 degree Celsius sea surface temperature anomalies gives 10 to 15 percent increase in rainfall,” he added.

    Worthwhile reading the full article here

  11. Colorado Bob says:

    South Africa –

    People evacuated as floods sweep across N.Cape

    More rain is expected in the area later this week.

  12. Sou says:

    The ABC acts as the main media outlet for emergency announcements (fires, floods, cyclones etc) – mostly through its radio network, also its television service. To get an idea of the floods, most of the videos currently on the ABC news website relate to the Queensland floods. For the flash floods referred to above, look at the videos relating to Lockyer Valley, Toowoomba and Grantham. There are other videos showing the extent of the slower-spreading ‘inland ocean’ and the rising waters in the cities of Brisbane and Ipswich.

  13. Climate system may be more sensitive than we thought…(or simply not fully comprehending that a mere half-degree increase globally has to produce a whole bunch of record extremes and disasters)

    Here’s my explanatory piece on how Trenberth and others think climate change may be affecting ENSO – worsening impacts, creating new ENSO “flavors”

    Climate Change Could Be Worsening Effects of El Niño, La Niña

  14. Colorado Bob says:

    Australia’s Record Rains Squeeze World Coal Supplies as Scientists Study Climate Pattern
    Australia’s torrential rains are driving up global coal prices, as flood damage to the resource-rich northeastern state of Queensland raises fresh questions about the storms’ connections to global warming and climate patterns in the Asia-Pacific region.

  15. Colorado Bob says:

    Ten killed in Sao Paulo deluge

    More than 30,000 people have been forced to abandon their homes and find refuge with relatives or in state-run shelters.

    The rainfall recorded so far this month accounted for nearly the total average precipitation for all of January.–killed-in-sao-paulo–deluge-20110112-19mxl.html

  16. Esop says:

    2 page article in todays paper on how the La Nina is the sole cause of the Australian flood. I would have thought record high SSTs would have had something to do with it too, but that was not mentioned with a single word. Should mean that the La Nina is extremely strong though, and that makes the fact that 2010 still turned out to be the warmest on record even more impressive/worrying. That fact was not mentioned in the article, though. Pretty weird.

  17. Colorado Bob says:

    JR –
    I saw a report of the 6 inch rainfall in one hour , where was it reported that 6 inches fell in 30 mins. ? I’d like to add it to my list .

  18. Colorado Bob says:

    Scientists see climate change link to Australian floods

    SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Climate change has likely intensified the monsoon rains that have triggered record floods in Australia’s Queensland state, scientists said on Wednesday, with several months of heavy rain and storms still to come.

    “The waters off Australia are the warmest ever measured and those waters provide moisture to the atmosphere for the Queensland and northern Australia monsoon,” he told Reuters.

  19. Esop says:

    # 16 (Bob): Funny how almost the entire MSM does not dare mention that very fact. I guess they are too busy printing denier drivel/excuses for the barrage of extreme weather events currently happening all over the globe.

  20. Sou says:

    @ Colorado Bob #15 – here are the intra-day rainfall observations for Toowoomba. Note that the time of observation is not regular.

    The flash flood occurred on 10 January. Most of the rain fell between about midday and 4pm – the actual amount recorded at the weather station doesn’t look to have been that large but something about it produced the flash flood. Rain is recorded from 9am in Australia. (The daily highest so far this month was the following day, the 11 Jan.) The ground was saturated. Freak flooding.

    (You’ll have to be quick because the 10th is about to drop off the page of observations. Daily observations will still be available.)

  21. PurpleOzone says:

    I cannot imagine a rain storm dumping 6″ inches in an hour, or 1/2 hour.
    Recently, I’ve seen 1″ an hour storms and they aren’t pretty.

  22. Sou says:

    Correction to my previous post – the daily highest for January so far is recorded as 11 January, but that represents rainfall through from 9 am on the 10 Jan to 9 am on 11 January. So the 10th January was the day when more rain fell than any other day in Jan so far.

  23. Sou says:

    Here is a good article by Prof Neville Nicholls of Monash University, Australia, on the strength of the current La Niña:

    Depending on the period of comparison, he indicates this is the strongest or second strongest La Niña event on record.

    Professor Neville Nicholls spent 35 years in climate research in the Bureau of Meteorology before joining Monash University in 2006 where he is an Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow.

  24. Prokaryotes says:

    15th largest city in Australia is Toowoomba with 128,600 inhabitants.

  25. Sou says:

    @21 Purpleozone – the recorded rainfall at Toowoomba for the 24 hour period to 9am 11 January was 123.4 mm, which is 4.9 inches. I don’t know where the six inches in 30 minutes came from. I’m sure it’s a mistake.

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    #1 Colorado Bob said “In Ipswich, 30 kilometres to the south-west and with a population of 140,000, a third of the city was underwater as the flood advanced on Queensland’s state capital.”

    Hmm, there are 2 Ipswich in Queensland … apparently the deluge at least affected The City of Ipswich

    The City of Ipswich has a population of 162,380 (2009).

    Population: 2,327 (2006 census),_Queensland

    ANNE SMART has never seen water rise so fast.

    One minute the 62-year-old grandmother was cooking dinner for her husband in their two-storey house in Ipswich, west of Brisbane, the next, water was lapping at the backyard.

    Who is not under a shock or maybe even traumatic after experience these freak flash floods, the new normal?
    How long can the human psyche possible cope with the new standard of natures wrath?

    Action to Combat Climate Change, anyone?

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    Ipswich is the second-oldest local government area in Queensland, after Brisbane.

  28. Prokaryotes says:

    Toowoomba Flood 2011.01.10 2,010,607 views, showing a guy saving his car – what you should not try when standing at a growing creek torrent.

  29. Prokaryotes says:

    A guy awimming in his pool

    … This is one amazing footage of the Brisbane City flooded taken from a boat. This is Australia’s third largest city with two million people.

    Surreal and Odd.

  30. Prokaryotes says:

    Btw i just saw the article video :) (have the no scripts browser plugin)

  31. Esop says:

    #29 (Prokaryotes): That is just plain sick. Australian deniers gotta be under some pressure these days.

  32. Prokaryotes says:

    Video Simulation Shows Brisbane City Australia In 5.5 Meters flood 12th January 2010

  33. Jakob Wranne says:


    In one of our main papers (‘Dagens Nyheter’, Sweden) , not a word is said about Climate Change as a cause for the floods.

    “It is El Niña, a very strong El Niña, there might even be a Mega Niña in the future some scientists say.”

    I’ll be back with details on this tomorrow (Here it’s late now.)

  34. Prokaryotes says:

    Sri Lanka? Has some area shots.

    President tours flood affected Polonnaruwa
    January 12, 2011 President Rajapaksa took the initiative of visiting the areas battered by the disaster caused by torrential rain which had been experienced for several days.

  35. paulm says:

    Soaked Victoria warned of flash flooding
    By Nick Parkin and staff

    Updated Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:54pm AEDT

    The SES at Natimuk. (ABC News: Emily Stewart)

    RELATED STORY: Victoria braces for more flash flooding
    RELATED STORY: Worst floods in 15 years grip Victoria
    RELATED STORY: Army to evacuate Victorian flood victims
    The weather bureau is warning Victoria’s rain-soaked north and west will be hit with further heavy falls over the next few days.

    Some parts of the state’s north and west have already had their wettest start to the year on record.

    The highest rainfall has been at Jeparit, near Horsham, which recorded 160 millimetres in the last 24 hours.

    Further south, four caravan parks along the Great Ocean Road have been evacuated.

    Forecaster Phil King says more rain is predicted, and some rivers could reach major flood levels later this week.

  36. Colorado Bob says:

    The death toll mentioned @ #7 is now 109 and climbing . A month’s worth on rain in 24 hours.

  37. Wit's End says:

    #17, Colorado Bob, I can’t speak as to the veracity, but here is a source for the 6″ in 1/2 hour:

    “To the west, a deluge of up to 6 inches (150 millimeters) in a half-hour fell over a concentrated area Monday, sending a 26-foot (eight-meter), fast-moving torrent crashing through Toowoomba and smaller towns.”

    JR said:

    “The worrisome part, as I’ve said many times, is that we’ve only warmed about a degree Fahrenheit in the past half-century.”

    And that’s with the masking of heating due to “Global Dimming”.

    Now, that’s REALLY scary. How much hotter will it get when the aerosols are reduced and the amount of solar radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface is significantly increased?

    We will need a very big parasol.

  38. Esop says:

    #31: (Jakob): “Dagens Nyheter” probably ran the same exact story that was run here (“Aftenposten”, Norway).
    Seems like a translated/butchered version of the Guardian story, but they removed the last paragraph that proposed a link to climate change, since both Norway and Sweden are deep in denial due to some wintry temperatures in December (temps much milder than average now, though, but that is not of interest for the denialist media)

  39. Wit's End says:

    From Wiki, list of weather records…so, it is possible to have 6″ in 1/2 hour.


    Most in one minute: 31.2 mm (1.23 in); Unionville, Maryland, United States, 4 July 1956.[17]
    Most in 60 minutes: 305 mm (12.0 in) in 42 minutes. Holt, Missouri, United States, 22 June 1947.[17]
    Most in 12 hours: 1,144 mm (45.0 in); Foc-Foc, Réunion, 8 January 1966, during tropical cyclone Denise.[17]
    Most in 24 hours: 1,825 mm (71.9 in); Foc-Foc, Réunion, 7–8 January 1966 during tropical cyclone Denise.[17]

  40. Prokaryotes says:

    [QLD FLOODS] Nine News Special Presentation: Qld Flood Crisis (12.1.2011)

    Brought to you by Australian media, the collapse of society.

    Information about the climate, which created the disaster in the first place, error.

  41. Colorado Bob says:

    One tale has particularly transfixed the country: a 13-year-old boy caught in the flood who told strangers to save his 10-year-old brother first and died as a result.

    Jordan and Blake Rice were in the car with their mother, Donna, when a wall of water pummeled Toowoomba on Monday. After the torrent of water knocked one rescuer over, another man managed to reach the car, The Australian newspaper reported. At Jordan’s insistence, he pulled Blake out first, according to a third brother, Kyle.

    “Courage kicked in, and he would rather his little brother would live,” the 16-year-old told the newspaper. Jordan and his mother were washed away before the men were able to get back to them. By Wednesday, Jordan’s name was among the top 10 most used terms on Twitter, as a wave of tweets hailed him as a “true hero” of the Queensland floods.

  42. Caliban says:

    I’m in Australia and have been following the media coverage on this closely – there is almost a complete silence around the climate change link to the floods. If it is mentioned – it’s the major climate denier journalists claiming this is ‘proof’ that climate change is a furphy because we’re meant to be getting warmer and drier!!!:

    This after the worst bushfires in living memory in Victoria where the official report also downplayed the link to climate change! How many extreme weather events do we need before people start to join the dots? The state of denial around climate change here is frankly quite amazing!

  43. Colorado Bob says:

    Wit’s End –
    Thanks, later on I saw the Dr, Masters had mentioned the same thing. (6 in 30).

    Last summer I saw a report of sixteen feet in a week in Pakistan , some took exception to this , but a few days later one came in of 12 feet in 60 hours, in another completely different valley in Pakistan. Given that these are some of the highest mountains in the world , the orographic effect producing these totals made perfect sense.
    The Taiwan typhoon of Aug. 2009 was well documented as being 10 feet over the course of the storm.

  44. Colorado Bob says:

    Caliban @ 42 –
    Just in the last 2 days I have begun to see forecasts in these stories of the rains continuing into June. Ones prior to this week spoke of a March / April time frame. My personal thinking is that we made a jump last year to the effects of this new 4% state of water vapor. If I am right , you folks are in for some serious problems. Given that the system isn’t “raining it’s self out “, but is being constantly “topped off” by this new state .

  45. Prokaryotes says:

    Brisbane escapes worst-case scenario
    Updated 6 minutes ago

    The Brisbane River has peaked below five metres, but authorities are still warning there will be widespread devastation.

    Police say the river reached 4.6 metres – almost a metre lower than the historic flood of 1974 – and will remain at major flood levels until sometime tomorrow.

  46. Prokaryotes says:

    Caliban said “How many extreme weather events do we need before people start to join the dots?”

    I only heard the major of Rockhampton talking about climate change. Nut do you think the MSM reported this, no way. This doesn’t fit into the status quo and we love our poisonous environmental destroying gas guzzlers, till the end.

    Maybe a worst case scenario? But i doubt this would change a lot, because after a worst case scenario, you will likely have big losses and chaos.
    The time for action is now and is about to pass. That’s what you get when the wrong people rule.

  47. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    The flood video was puzzling. Why were the cars still there as the floodwaters rose? We had a river flood one year when an ice dam formed by the concrete underpass. News spread through the office buildings by email, cubicle-to-cubicle visits, phone calls, etc, and the parking lots up and down the streets were cleared within an hour even though there were several different offices involved and there wasn’t any official communication channel between the different offices. I would have thought that word of the rising waters would have spread fast and people would have removed their cars before they were swept away.

    On the other hand, perhaps they were not supposed to park there so no-one knew who they were–their cars then end up being ‘ticketed and towed’ by Mother Nature?

  48. Prokaryotes says:

    Daniel J. Andrews said “The flood video was puzzling. Why were the cars still there as the floodwaters rose?”

    You missing the point – same with everybody from the MSM – blind apes.

    “freak rains of six inches fell in just 30 minutes near Toowoomba”

  49. David Stern says:

    The water in the video actually flowed inland not into the Brisbane River eventually. But other parts of the same storm that fell on the otherside of the Divide caused the flash flooding in the Lockyer Valley and then would flow towards Brisbane. I was shocked that there could be a flood in Toowoomba like this. It sitting on the top of the escarpment along the Great Divide and the drainage basin for this creek is just the southern neighbourhoods of the town.

  50. Colorado Bob says:

    Brisbane escapes worst-case scenario
    Updated 6 minutes ago ……

    IF it stops raining. And nothing coming over the wires says it”s slowing down , anywhere .
    The South Africans can’t make electricity because their coal is too wet. Brazil just did another one of those ” months worth of rain in 24 hrs. ” events. This one was bad. And their are 2 million people in the Philippines & Sri Lanka out of their homes. The list of countries & cities that have been trashed is never mentioned . This last round of Australian misery fell on one of the 10 richest agricultural areas in the world. Sri Lanka’s drinking water system has been destroyed . That’s just the last 3 weeks.

  51. Chris Winter says:

    Here are the Australian Bureau of Meteorology warnings for Queensland:

    Flood warning after flood warning.

  52. Sarah says:

    I posted this to the National Public Radio (NPR) comment page this morning:

    For months you have been reporting on extreme weather events such as floods in Australia, winter storms in southern and eastern US, monsoons in California, and last summer’s devastating heat wave in Russia. Yet you have yet to provide a single word on the underlying climate that drives the weather. The fact that climate change is a major contributor to the severity of these events is well understood.  It’s as though you are reporting on a viral epidemic without acknowledging the existence of a virus,  instead assuming that each new case is an independent and mysterious event. Surely NPR can do better. I suggest that you start with a call to Jeff Masters of Weather Underground.

  53. fj3 says:

    Post-war’ effort needed to rebuild Queensland We have mitigate climate change with wartime speed!

  54. fj3 says:

    55. fj3 continued, Optimized and advanced net-zero human mobility will be a major weapon in the battle limiting climate devastation.

  55. Wit's End says:

    Sarah –

    NPR coverage (or rather, non-coverage) of the biggest story of all time, AGW, is nothing short of despicable. The same can be said for the formerly respectable New York Review of Books, which assiduously avoids any mention of the topic!

    WHO owns them, one must wonder?

  56. Colorado Bob says:

    It’s about to turn “mild”, and rain like hell in the British Isles.

  57. Colorado Bob says:

    Victoria –

    ‘We’re in a very humid air-mass, which is basically tropical air which has come down from the north and settled over Victoria. That’s the source of the heavy rain.

  58. Colorado Bob says:

    Fiji –

    Continuous rain has led to flooding in most parts of the Western and Eastern Division.

  59. Colorado Bob says:

    This image, made from the Multi-Satellite Precipitation Analysis (MPA) based on data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), shows the intense rain on January 10. The storm was relatively concentrated, with the highest rainfall west and northwest of Brisbane. In the darkest blue regions, the TRMM MPA recorded rainfall totals greater than 200 millimeters (8 inches) for the day. Weather stations on the ground reported similar totals.

  60. Rodel Urmatan says:

    “The heavy rains began shortly before New Year’s Eve and have affected 1.29 million people across 144 towns, including 338,000 who fled their homes or are receiving food or other aid from the government, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in its latest bulletin.” – PDI, January 12, 2011…

  61. Sou says:

    After the flash flood on Monday that tore through and destroyed much of the Lockyer Valley in Queensland, it has just been announced that the water reservoirs have been damaged the water supply is very low and water is being trucked in by the army and down from Townsville. This affects about 10,000 people in the valley (not Toowoomba).

    Lack of potable water is very common after floods and storms, often as a result of contamination. In this case there was physical damage to the reservoirs.

  62. Jim says:

    Koch Flood, noun; flooding caused by an extreme precipitation event intensified by additional heat in the atmosphere

  63. Richard Brenne says:

    Colorado Bob (#43) – As Wit’s End and Wiki shows us, 6 inches in half an hour is possible, even if it would be half of the world record for an hour.

    You and I had the discussion of the Pakistan rain totals last summer, but then a commenter from England said the paper quoting 12 feet (144 inches) of rain in 60 hours (5 days) and 16 feet (192 inches) in 7 days was almost certainly wrong and had a pattern of being wrong about things like that.

    Here are more rainfall records from Wikipedia:

    Most in one minute: 31.2 mm (1.23 in); Unionville, Maryland, United States, 4 July 1956.[17]
    Most in 60 minutes: 305 mm (12.0 in) in 42 minutes. Holt, Missouri, United States, 22 June 1947.[17]
    Most in 12 hours: 1,144 mm (45.0 in); Foc-Foc, Réunion, 8 January 1966, during tropical cyclone Denise.[17]
    Most in 24 hours: 1,825 mm (71.9 in); Foc-Foc, Réunion, 7–8 January 1966 during tropical cyclone Denise.[17]
    Most in 48 hours: 2,467 mm (97.1 in); Aurère, Réunion, 8–10 January 1958.[17]
    Most in 72 hours: 3,929 mm (154.7 in); Commerson, Réunion, 24–26 February 2007.[17]
    Most in 96 hours: 4,869 mm (191.7 in); Commerson, Réunion, 24–27 February 2007.[17]
    Most in one year: 26,470 mm (1,042 in); Cherrapunji, India, 1860–1861.[17]
    Highest average annual total: 11,872 mm (467.4 in); Mawsynram, India.

    Note that the rainfall records from 12 to 96 hours are all on the mountainous island of Reunion near Madagascar in the Indian Ocean when hit by the most intense tropical cyclones.

    But a mountain in Queensland gets an average of 340 inches of rain a year, the most in Australia and comparable to the records on most of the continents, so the orographic effect combined (briefly) with rainfall comparable to what one could get from a tropical cyclone is possible.

    In Pakistan it was undoubtedly much less, but gathered over key drainages and added much melting snow, as you showed us with key satellite photos last summer. The effect was like the Big Thompson flood (which I believe you mentioned you experienced in one way or another, something I’d love to hear about if you ever care to share), perhaps times 100 to 1000 or so with the cumulative effect from many more drainages.

    Colorado Bob, your links, comments and observations are priceless – thank you.

    Also Sarah (#53), your comment to NPR with the viral epidemic line is absolutely brilliant – do you mind if I quote you about that? Do you care to share to whom (maybe your full name and title – you can e-mail me at I should attribute the quote?

  64. Don says:

    The problem in linking climate change to flooding in Queensland is that the State is largely supported by coal mining. It is now responsible for an enormous percentage of employment bot at mine sites and in all of the secondary support industries.

    Consequently it is difficult for anyone else from the farming sector or the tourism sector, both strongly adversely effected by mining, to gain any traction in attempting to gain the public’s attention to try to highlight the emerging ecological disaster.

    The other problem is that the state is so reliant on mining income that if coal mining collapses then the state is in a very serious predicament. Hard to find a politician that wants to see it happen on their watch, even if shortly after the whole planet is set to fall into disarray…

  65. Colorado Bob says:

    Koch Flood, noun; Amen Jim, amen.

  66. Matto says:

    Ooops, looks like my last comment accidentally got filtered. Here’s that link again:

    [JR: It’s the staggering breadth of the flooding, PLUS the depth!]

  67. John McCormick says:

    RE # 68

    Don, China is ready to buy those mines and pay a high price for Australia’s coal.

    John McCormick

  68. Caliban says:

    OK so now we start to see some comment on climate change and the floods in the mainstream media, this one by one of our most respected scientists:
    No doubt the sceptics and deniers are gearing up for the usual attacks. There is almost an automatic ‘but you can’t prove this is climate change’ response from everyone I talk to, as if suggesting this link is somehow not appropriate – the inculturation of this denial is both fascinating and frightening.

  69. matt says:

    December 2009:

    Dr Jones said an El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean – linked to hotter, drier conditions in Australia – would have an effect on the world’s climate next year.

    David Jones is the head of climate analysis at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology

    [JR: It did. Then we flipped to a La Nina.]

  70. matt says:

    JR: My mistake – comment was meant to be in

    We get little coverage of Climate Science in Australia – and coverage of CSIRO and BOM work is almost non-existent. I want Australian people to see that Australian institutions are active, and capable – despite the lack of media coverage.

  71. Elli Davis says:

    I have been watching the situation for a while now, but I don’t believe everything media feeds us, so if it’s not a problem, could I ask you guys, what is the situation like right now?

    You seem the most competent.



    [JR: Can you elaborate?]