Cyclone Carlos dumps record amount of rain on Darwin

Last week, I reposted Dr. Jeff Masters’ piece, “Extremely dangerous Tropical Cyclone Yasi bears down on flooded Queensland, Australia.”  Now comes Carlos.  While it isn’t as “strong” as Yasi, it has dumped a stunning amount of water on this most water-soaked country:

Just two weeks after Tropical Cyclone Yasi caused massive destruction to parts of Australia, another big storm has brought further flooding to the far north of the country.

Tropical Cyclone Carlos dumped a total of 339.6mm [13 inches] of rain over Darwin during the 24 hour period ending midnight GMT on Wednesday. This is an all-time record for the city over a 24 hour period and eclipses anything that Yasi produced over any town in a single day.

In fact, Darwin has now had a staggering 470mm [18.5 inches] of rain over a 48-hour period and there is more to come. The storm is moving very slowly and that is why we are seeing such huge rainfall totals over a similar area. In the case of Yasi the wind was as much a damaging feature as the rain. Typical rainfall totals were nearer 160mm of rain over a 24 hour period.

The warmest sea surface temperatures in Australian records have been fueling floods called ‘biblical’ “” floods covering an area “the size of France and Germany combined.” ABC News has explained “Raging Waters In Australia and Brazil Product of Global Warming.”

In a globally warmed world, the saying will be rewritten:  When it rains, it deluges.

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33 Responses to Cyclone Carlos dumps record amount of rain on Darwin

  1. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    Planet Earth is well on its way to becoming deluged by such events. And there’s no getting used to such weather, nor simply adapting.

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    It’s On!
    Humanity Needs to Act!

    The Situation has a lot of Inertia, which makes it so Dangerous.

    James Hansen talks about the urgency of the climate crisis

    This record amounts of precipitation with the Cyclone Carlos, is exactly what is predicted would happen with these sort of weather phenomena. Getting more pronounced, bigger, stronger and faster (faster we had 2 weeks ago with century records breaking Cyclone Yasi)

  3. paulm says:

    Global Warming creeping up on us… the world is changing…getting creepier…

    (positive or negative feedback?)


    “By pulling together data from eight different studies, we now have irrefutable evidence that vines are on the rise not only in the Amazon, but throughout the American tropics,” said Stefan Schnitzer of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama

    Woody vines, called lianas, compete with trees for water, nutrients and sunlight. The native vines grow high into the canopy by exploiting trees’ height and strength for support. So an increase in their numbers could mean trouble for the trees — shifting the dynamics of forest life.

    “We are witnessing a fundamental structural change in the physical make-up of forests that will have a profound impact on the animals, human communities, and businesses that depend on them for their livelihoods,”

  4. John Mason says:

    Now that is one stunning total, choose how you look at it. Extrapolate this a few years and it will be increasingly hard – no, impossible – to deny that there is something new and big going on…

    Cheers – John

  5. paulm says:

    Australia Corals Predict More Rains : Discovery News

    ‎”These coral samples, which date from 1639 to 1981, suggest that the summer of 1973-74 was the wettest in 300 years,” Lough said in a statement released by the American Geophysical Union, which will publish her study in an upcoming issue of the journal Paleoceanography.

    “This summer is now being compared with that record-settling one,” she said. The current La Niña is the strongest it has been since 1974.

  6. paulm says:

    Auz floundering…

    Darwin hammered
    Houses and cars were flooded and trees and powerlines crashed to the ground as more than 400mm of rain fell on Darwin ahead of an expected cyclone.

    In the Darwin suburb of Marrara, a record 435 millimetres of rain fell in 24 hours.

  7. Scrooge says:

    Those darn nails keep falling out of the coffin. They shoulda used wood screws. But I do have a nagging thought. It seems to me hurricanes or cyclones, whatever you want to call them seem to be intensifying more before landfall now than in the past. I could assume it has to do with water temp. I was wondering if there’s any hard data to go along with my perceived idea.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Prokaryotes (#3),

    It has been ~4 years since Hansen gave the presentation in which he talks about a 10 year window to start doing something serious about CO2 emissions. I don’t see that much of anything has changed in the intervening 4 years.

    I see 3 problems associated with making changes in the US:

    1) Political resistence-Our political system is controlled by money, much of which comes from corporations. The corporations with the largest revenues are now generally energy related corporations. They buy influence. I don’t see that changing and I don’t see Republicans changing their position concerning global warming because they are so connected to corporate money.

    2). Economic resistence-As an example, if an American can buy a gasoline powered motor vehicle for much less than they can buy an electric vehicle, they will buy the gasoline powered vehicle. A small percentage of environmental wackoos and tech geeks may buy electric vehicles but the impact will be minimal.

    In terms of coal-generated electricity, it’s relatively cheap because much of the costs associated with burning coal are externalized. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

    3). Practical resistance-In the colder areas of the north, such as here in Sault Ste. Marie, when it’s cold, people need heat. We can’t wait for the wind blow or sun to shine if it’s cold now. Thus the motivation to use natural gas, heating oil or coal for heating. In winter here, the radiate flux from the sun is minimal even if it isn’t cloudy although it is generally cloudy through the winter. Often there are frequent days in succession with no wind. There are ~135 windmills across the river in Canada that generate electricity but I’ve often seen them not moving or barely moving because of lack of wind.

    Roger Blanchard
    Sault Ste. Marie, MI

  9. CTG says:

    In 1990, James Burke (of Connections fame) produced a documentary series called “After the Warming”. He made several predictions about the effects of global warming, including intensification of storms exactly as we are seeing now. One thing he got wrong, though, was the date. He said that the increase in storm intensity would start making itself felt in the 2020s.

    Nobody can say we weren’t warned…

  10. Mark says:

    The numbers for Australia are incredible, mind boggling even. But for most people it is a long way away, and they have trouble relating. They have trouble believing that floods in far away places are warnings for them here at home.

    In order to help people understand how their local climate is changing, I’ve pulled the weather data from my closest weather station – Hanscom Air Force Base (Bedford, MA) since 1957.

    The data shows that from 1957 until 1990, the Boston area had one day with more than 4″ of rain in a 24 hour period. (That was in 1962.) Since 1990, we’ve had 7 days with more than 4″ of rain in a 24 hour period. That means that during the last 20 years we’ve been 12 times as likely to experience a deluge and related flooding as during the previous 33 years.

    When people understand that this change in weather patterns is consistent with the climate models for 1 degree F of warming and remember the two 50-year storms we had 2 weeks apart in March of 2010, they start to understand that climate change is happening, here and now.

    Take a look at your local weather history. You may be surprised what you learn. I certainly was.

  11. Adam R. says:

    @John Mason
    Extrapolate this a few years and it will be increasingly hard – no, impossible – to deny that there is something new and big going on…


    Surf could be breaking in downtown Houston and Watts, Morano, et al. would still be denying humans had anything to do with it. Nature can rub their noses in it all she wants to, they will never admit they were wrong.

  12. Colorado Bob says:

    Mark @ 11 –

    Flooding disasters
    In March, heavy rainfall and flooding in the Northeast, including the worst in Rhode Island’s history, caused more than $1.5 billion in damages and killed 11 people.

  13. Scrooge says:

    Mark does it the old fashioned way. Its a beautiful area around Hanscom AFB. By looking at these types of records across the country you can pick out patterns and “cycles”. This is a great tool for weather forecasting. The only problem is that when some weather forecasters pick out these patterns and think they trump science. Of course then they can get a job at faux being a climate expert. A forecaster may be influenced by aching joints to forecast rain. That would be fine, the problem is when a scientist says it may temp humidity and pressure causing the rain plus aching joints, and the forecaster says he doesn’t know anything because he knows its the knee that causes the rain.
    But anyway mark it is worthwhile to notice local changes.

  14. Colorado Bob says:

    Mark –
    Speaking of local records, we are eliminating today , the last record daily high that is in the 70’s for the month of Feb. It is currently 85F the old record was 79F.
    One week ago, it was 4F overnight, an 81F degree swing in one week.

  15. Mark says:

    Thanks Colorado Bob and Scrooge.
    One of our famous Boston politicians, Tip O’Neill, used to say that “All politics is local.”
    Perhaps that applies to climate politics as well.

  16. Colorado Bob says:

    From Micheal T –
    PARIS (AFP) – Global warming driven by human activity boosted the intensity of rain, snow and consequent flooding in the northern hemisphere over the last half of the 20th century, research released Wednesday has shown.

  17. Colorado Bob says:

    Mark –
    The all time record snow storm has just struck South Korea. Seoul got an 11 inch rainfall in 24 hrs. last Nov. The all time record rain event for them.

    “The 100 Year Event ” is being replaced by ” The All Time Event “

  18. Colorado Bob says:

    One group of researchers looked at the strongest rain and snow events of each year from 1951 to 1999 in the Northern Hemisphere and found that the more recent storms were 7 percent wetter. That may not sound like much, but it adds up to be a substantial increase, said the report from a team of researchers from Canada and Scotland.

  19. Scrooge says:

    To me C Bob 7 percent wetter is huge. Now tie that in with annual precip numbers and if there is no change in that crops may feel like they are in a drought. Just a wag not a swag.

  20. Colorado Bob says:

    The AP got 10 people to look at that study, :

    In fact, the computer models underestimated the increase in extreme rain and snow. That is puzzling and could be even more troubling for our future, said Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University, who wasn’t part of the study.

  21. Prokaryotes says:

    Cyclone Carlos Breaks Rainfall Records And Slams Darwin, Australia 16th Feb 2011 Raw Footage

  22. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yeah, looks like we over estimated the number of rain dances required to break the drought.

    Re 9 and 12. History shows that social change can happen very fast. These rapid changes are called ‘disconuities’ where whole populations change their mind 180 degrees. The Three Mile Island accident is an American example where nuclear power went from a favourite around the world to a no no in a moment.

    Now that the effects of climate change are becoming highly visible, watch for a gathering change of heart until it reaches a critical mass and then you will see action. The initiators of denial will get killed in the rush. The final stages happen very fast although it may be slow to take off – think of the process leading to the fall of the USSR. The only question is whether it will happen in time or too late, ME

  23. quokka says:

    Carlos seems quite unusual in that it developed from a tropical low north of Katherine in the Northern Territory and it’s track has been almost entirely over land. You can see the track maps of current Australian cyclones by clicking on the system of interest here

    Comments from any cyclone experts?

  24. Colorado Bob says:

    So far this month, Darwin has already recorded at least 830mm, beating the previous February monthly record of 814mm, in 1969.

    The city needed to receive only a further 300mm by the end of April to beat its previous wet season record of 2499mm set in 1997-98, Mr Kersemakers said.

  25. FrankD says:

    The Al Jazeeera report cites BOM figures to 9:00 am on Feb 16th (Local), because that’s when the BOM reset their daily rainfall numbers.

    But it was still raining then.

    Over the next 16 hours, another 174 mm (nearly 7 inches) of rain fell, giving a total of 644.6 mm (25.4 inches) in an unbroken 70-hour deluge. Finally, at 7 o’clock this morning, the rain stopped.

  26. Merrelyn Emery says:

    In 23, that word is supposed to be ‘discontinuities’. Sorry, ME

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    Re quokka, maybe the record La Ninia is to blame? And Yasi too inundated areas far inland. The flooding at the coast was only modest (except for some towns) because he moved so quick. That Carlos stalls is clearly another worrying sign of new features. But this too can happen with predicted longer lasting storms.

    Here is another great article about the last floods and some related points are made.

    La Nina intensifies rainfall in Australia by shifting the poles of the Walker Circulation, which is the east-west overturning circulation in the Pacific. Typically, air rises over the warm waters of the central and western Pacific Ocean, causing convection and rainfall there. To balance this rising air, air at the surface must rush in from both east and west. In turn, this surface convergence causes air to move downward elsewhere, which suppresses rainfall; normally, “elsewhere” is the eastern Indian Ocean and the west coast of South America. During La Nina, however, the cool Pacific Ocean temperatures stabilize the atmosphere there, reducing upward motion and rainfall. Instead, air rises over the islands of the Maritime Continent and over Australia, where ocean temperatures are warmer and there is more moisture available. Thus, the entire Walker Circulation shifts west, producing heavy rain over eastern and northern Australia, Indonesia, and the Phillippines; these countries have all seen flooding this year. The opposite happens during El Nino, which typically produces drought in Queensland.

    There were two synoptic factors behind this rainfall: the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Tasha, which made landfall near Cairns on Christmas Day before drifting south and west across the interior of Queensland; and a moist easterly, onshore flow across much of the state, driven by monsoonal low-pressure systems to the north and high pressure in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand. The synoptic chart below shows this pressure pattern, which can occur in any season and frequently leads to heavy rains along the Queensland coast. I experienced the effects of this synoptic pattern in April 2009 while in Brisbane, where 200 millimetres of rain fell in two days!

  28. Scrooge says:

    Quokka I tried to find a discussion on how it formed. The only thing I could find was the map you provided. Now to me everything is backwards down there so add that to the confusion. Just looking at the map a low without much in the way of steering winds meandered over warmer water and intensified. The reason for so much rain is its just sitting there pumping moisture. I would like someone add to this also but since no one answered your request and I like to ramble.

  29. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The radio is now reporting that Carlos has brought ‘one in 500 year’ deluges, but, as Adam R. #12 so correctly points out, nothing stops the denialists. Every weather disaster this year has been simply dismissed as ‘La Nina’ or as nothing special, far worse having happened in 1918 or 1841 or some such date. By the time a real scientists, or even a dogged blogger, points out that this is baloney, the denialist caravan has moved on. The furphies will be resurrected later, like good little zombies, to impress a new crop of Dunning-Krugerites. And they are testing a new tactic, the ‘It was even worse thousands of years ago, before we had historical records’ concoction, which, at present, as this is a nascent denialist tactic, is uttered sans any evidence, (which has never stopped them in the past), but with that practised pretence of authority that they simulate so well. No doubt the denialist industry elves are hard at work concocting some pseudo-science to back these confabulations, to be ready when the ‘one in a thousand years’ or ‘one in a million years’ disasters visit us.

  30. Nick says:

    Three day falls total 600 to over 800mm for Darwin and suburbs.

  31. Dappledwater says:

    Prokaryotes @28 I experienced the effects of this synoptic pattern in April 2009 while in Brisbane, where 200 millimetres of rain fell in two days!

    We got 253mm in just under 14hrs from Cyclone Wilma here in northern New Zealand a couple of weeks ago. About 50Km down the road got a shade over 300mm. It caused some major damage in my area, and the small stream on my property was a raging torrent. Very impressive from a safe distance!.

  32. Prokaryotes says:

    Actually i tried to find the summary about the circulation shift which caused the extreme floods (I guess that is the Walker Circulation).

    Normally the air masses above Australia flows from east to west latitude, but this reversed. And even if people talk about La Nina, it is still part of the climate.

    And the bottom line is that this La Nina is the strongest La Nina since 1974, hence the extreme floods. But the media decided not to report about the obvious connection.

    The 1974 Australia Flood in Brisbane , which prompted the building of a dam. Which helped to prevent the worst for Brisbane, Australia’s 3rd largest city.

    There are official reports that this flood was worse then 1974, which again the media did not mentioned.

    But this was a single event and we have 4 destructive Cyclones, weeks of floods throughout east Australia and extreme drought and bushfires, and the precipitation is more extreme. And these kind of events happening now almost every year. Many homeowners just rebuild from Cyclone Jerry or got flooded a 2nd or 3rd time, this time within weeks.

    And it will get worse, because we still do not act with real action to reduce the extreme weather fuel – Co2 emissions.