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High Water: Hottest year ends with unprecedented, “biblical” Australian floods covering an area the size of France and Germany combined.

By Joe Romm  

"High Water: Hottest year ends with unprecedented, “biblical” Australian floods covering an area the size of France and Germany combined."

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3-month rainfall totals for Queensland
(1200 mm = 4 feet)

http://www.bom.gov.au/web03/ncc/www/awap/rainfall/totals/3month/colour/latest.qd.hres.gif

One of the most basic predictions of climate science is that global warming will cause more intense precipitation.  As Dr. Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, explained it, “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.”

Last year appears to have been the hottest year on record — and it saw an astonishing amount of intense rainfall from Nashville’s ‘Katrina’ to the great Pakistani deluge.” And so it should be no surprise that the year ends with another unprecedented deluge of “biblical proportion.”  Meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters has the tale of the tape:

Unprecedented flooding has hit the northeast Australian state of Queensland, thanks to a week and a half of torrential rains and the landfall of Tropical Cyclone Tasha on Christmas Day. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard stated yesterday, “Some communities are seeing flood waters higher than they’ve seen in decades, and for some communities flood waters have never reached these levels before [in] the time that we have been recording floods.” The worst flooding occurred where Tropical Cyclone Tasha made landfall on Christmas Day. Though Tasha was a minimal tropical storm with 40 mph winds and lasted less than a day, the cyclone dumped very heavy rains of 8 – 16 inches (about 200 – 400 mm) on a region that was already waterlogged from months of heavy rains. According to the National Climatic Data Center, springtime in Australia (September – November) had precipitation 125% of normal–the wettest spring in the country since records began 111 years ago. Some sections of coastal Queensland received over 4 feet (1200 mm) of rain from September through November. Rainfall in Australia in December may also set a record for rainiest December. The heavy rains are due, in part, to the moderate to strong La Ni±a event that has been in place since July. While the rains have eased over Queensland over the past few days, some rivers will not reach peak flood stage until Friday. Approximately 1000 people have been evacuated from the affected area so far.

The top chart is the 3-month rainfall totals for Queensland.  Here is the 7-day total via Masters:

Rainfall in Queensland, Australia for the 7-day period ending December 29, 2010. Image credit: Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Masters notes:

Flood warnings are in effect for over twelve rivers, and the flooding has closed approximately 300 roads across Queensland, including two major highways into the capital of Brisbane. Evacuations are underway in Rockhampton, a city of 50,000 people on the coast. Damage to infrastructure in Australia has been estimated at over $1 billion by the government, and economists have estimated the Australian economy will suffer an additional $6 billion in damage over the coming months due to reduced exports, according to insurance company AIR Worldwide….  Damage to agriculture is curently estimated at $400 million, and is expected to rise.

The one upside:  “Queensland is Australia’s top coal-producing state, and coal mining and delivery operations are being severely hampered by the flooding.”

Here is a photo from the NYT story, “Australia Floods Show No Signs of Retreating“:

Floods over an area the size of France and Germany combined included the Queensland town of Emerald, shown Friday.

That is bigger than Texas and almost two Californias.  The Daily Mail scores it this way:

Officials say half of Queensland’s 715,305 square miles has been affected by the flooding. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh warned that cleanup efforts were expected to cost billions of dollars.

In many ways, it is a disaster of biblical proportions,” Queensland State Treasurer Andrew Fraser told reporters in flood-hit Bundaberg.

See also TP’s “2010 Closes With Yet More Killer Climate Disasters” and Reuters, “Now coastal Queensland braces for 30-foot flood waters.”

Here are two more photos:

Submerged: Most of Chincilla, in Queensland, is under water as they flooding looks set to continue

Merry Christmas: But it's far from a happy new year for residents of Bundaberg who are submerged under flood water

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70 Responses to High Water: Hottest year ends with unprecedented, “biblical” Australian floods covering an area the size of France and Germany combined.

  1. dbmetzger says:

    Called by some the sunshine state…
    Australia Continues to Battle Floods
    River waters are still on the rise in northeastern Australia, where flooding has affected some 200,000 people. In eastern Queensland, the Fitzroy River is threatening to submerge half of the city of Rockhampton. http://www.newslook.com/videos/279632-australia-continues-to-battle-floods?autoplay=true

  2. espiritwater says:

    As I just emailed my friends/relatives:

    “If you’ve ever visited a greenhouse, you’ve noticed there is a lot of humidity along with the heat. Global Warming is Enhanced greenhouse effect. (Water vapor is a greenhouse gas as well as CO2). Therefore, as Global Warming progresses, we’re bound to see more precipitation (either in the form of rain OR SNOW).”

    (Of course, some areas will receive less precipitation, because all the heat dries it up? I’m not sure how that works?)

  3. Roger B. says:

    Much of northern North America had an exceptionally warm 2010. Below is a sampling of temperature data for the north from the 1970s to 2010. Temperatures are in Fahrenheit but if you want, you can convert to Celsius with F = 1.8 * C + 32.

    Town 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010
    Resolute, Nunuvut 1.4 2.5 3.3 4.9 10.5
    Coral Harbour, Nun. 10.5 11.3 11.3 13.4 19.8
    Yellowknife, NWT 22.9 23.5 a 24.6 28.9
    Goose Bay, NFL 30.7 31.3 31.0 33.2 38.5
    Sioux Lookout, Ont. 33.6 35.2 35.5 36.1 39.3
    Churchill, Manitoba 18.9 19.6 20.1 21.1 27.0
    La Ronge, Sask. 30.6 32.7 32.4 32.6 35.1
    Sault Ste. Marie, MI 39.8 40.0 40.8 42.1 44.8

    a – incomplete data

    In the case of Sault Ste. Marie, it was the second warmest year on record (since 1889) with 1998 being the warmest. 1998 was greatly influenced by the strong El Nino that year.

    Roger Blanchard
    Sault Ste. Marie, MI

  4. Prokaryotes says:

    Rain phobia grips Jeddah

    JEDDAH: The rains that struck the west coast of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and Thursday was a reminder to locals of the floods of Nov. 25, 2009. Though rain is rare in Jeddah, the slightest touch of raindrops these days can send students home from schools and employees scrambling out of offices.

    Ashraf Amin, an employee of a medical center, said the memories of last year’s rains and floods were still vivid in the minds of a large number of residents.

    “For many of them rain means death and destruction,” he said. “I am scared of rain.” http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article227419.ece

    Nine dead in Egypt, Saudi flooding

    MECCA, Saudi Arabia — Flash flooding killed a man and three children in the Mecca region of Saudi Arabia on Thursday, as waste-high water snarled traffic in the nearby Red Sea port of Jeddah, where 123 people died in flooding last year.
    The governor of Mecca, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, reported the deaths and added that another 200 people had been rescued from flood waters, many by helicopter.
    In Jeddah, several major roads in the east and south were inundated and traffic came to virtual halt after dozens of cars broke down, according to an AFP correspondent.
    Authorities said the flooding had caused no casualties, but many residents found their homes surrounded by water, which in some districts was knee-high and in others up to the waist.
    Jeddah, the kingdom’s second-largest city after Riyadh, was hit by a flood last November that killed 123 people and caused extensive damage.
    According to official figures, thousands of families lost their homes in that flood, which destroyed about 11,000 buildings and as many vehicles. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gwgwu5YxPgDCJ2gqxsIpn9K7yg5g?docId=CNG.a69773e48a0970301352054d0054365c.df1

  5. Roger B. says:

    If no one has noticed, Hudson Bay, Canada is still not frozen over as of Jan.1, 2011. Here is an image of the bay for Jan. 1.

    http://www.natice.noaa.gov/pub/ims/ims_gif/DATA/cursnow_usa.gif?session-id=05023905ab4f15e0b3bb0664ca4f86bf

    Roger Blanchard
    Sault Ste. Marie, MI

  6. Prokaryotes says:

    2 killed, 33,000 evacuated in Philippine flood

    Raging floodwaters following days of rain in the eastern Philippines have drowned an 80-year-old woman and her son and sent some 33,000 people to evacuation centers.

    Authorities declared a state of calamity in the worst-hit Albay province, where thousands of residents in seven towns including those living on the slopes of the Mayon volcano moved to emergency shelters after landslides and floods cut off roads and overflowed river banks. (AP) http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4006999,00.html

  7. Prokaryotes says:

    Balonne braces for record flooding

    WHILE floodwaters are receding in some areas, residents in St George, Surat and Dirranbandi are preparing their homes for record flooding this week.

    St George is on flood watch again, after an historic flood ravaged the town in March last year. http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2011/01/03/balonne-braces-for-record-flood-levels/

  8. Peter M says:

    Northeast AU- an event of Biblical proportions?

    Get ready for more- coming to a theater near you. The imbalances Hansen said would occur, from the growing warmth in the atmosphere are here now- ‘Storms of My Children’. Yes.

    Who is going to be next- hit by floods, droughts,fires, heat waves, blizzards—

  9. Prokaryotes says:

    Sri Lanka: 300,000 hit by Batti floods
    A staggering 331,000 residents have been rendered homeless due to the incessant rains in the eastern province.
    People displaced due to the flash floods are currently languishing in makeshift camps, schools, temples and churches according to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC).
    The government has taken immediate measures to assist the people who have been affected due to floods resulting from continuous downpour.
    Deputy Resettlement Minister Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan, who visited Batticaloa, said it was one of the worst floods in the recent times.
    “More than 300,000 people have been affected. Hundreds of acres of paddy crops are also destroyed due to the floods,” Muralitharan said. http://www.nation.lk/2011/01/02/news3.htm

  10. Prokaryotes says:

    Many record breaking floods from last year reoccur!

    The floods, caused by six river systems breaking their banks following torrential rains, are a reminder of the extremes of the Australian climate. An end to the prolonged drought was announced in Queensland only a fortnight ago; now farmers are contemplating vast acres of ruined crops. In Victoria and South Australia, meanwhile, searing temperatures have triggered major bushfire alerts. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/biblical-floods-displace-200000-queenslanders-2174038.html

  11. Mike says:

    Someone should photoshop that last image to read: “Merry Christmas and a happy new climate”.

  12. Mike Roddy says:

    Meanwhile, mirroring polls in the US in 2010, 10% more Australians attributed global warming to “natural causes” than in 2008:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/141782/australians-views-shift-climate-change.aspx

    Gallup gave “Climategate” credit for the change, but of course the real cause is the fossil fuel industries’ control of the media, which featured CLIMATEGATE! as a way to prove scientific fraud and conspiracy.

    In Australia it would be absurd to try to convince people that global warming isn’t happening, since evidence is everywhere. Instead, the Murdoch media empire attributes warming to volcanoes (Plimer) and even ocean currents, something I heard from an Aussie denier named “Girma from Perth” on Dot Earth. And the suckers go for it.

    This media fed fantasyland interpretation of climate phenomena is bizarre, and borderline criminal. Scientists need to be more forceful in expressing the truth, and study Monbiot’s evisceration of Plimer on Australian television a year ago.

  13. We have no more time to waste ! Time is running out for us ! The Planet will stay and will transform itself again after a few millions of years.
    Clean energy can slow down the processes of global warming and ocean acidification. We are still injecting huge amounts of CO2 24 hours a day in our atmosphere, non stop! The Mexico conference did not trigger the laws that we all need to make the change. Let´s think about it and take action!
    Information and education is one of the keys for a better world, for us!

  14. caerbannog says:


    If no one has noticed, Hudson Bay, Canada is still not frozen over as of Jan.1, 2011. Here is an image of the bay for Jan. 1.

    And here are some Greenland temperatures (as of 2011/01/02 @ wunderground.com)

    Prins Christian Sund 42 °F 3:00 PM WGT
    Tasiilaq 41 °F 30% 3:00 PM WGT
    Ikermiit 39 °F 37% 3:00 PM WGT
    Maniitsoq 36 °F 93% 4:20 PM WGT
    Sioralik 36 °F 93% 4:20 PM WGT
    Angisoq 35 °F 95% 3:00 PM WGT

  15. Neven says:

    How does this year compare to other (El Niño?) years with regards to all these floodings everywhere?

  16. Scrooge says:

    One billion for one event. Won’t take to long and the 100 billion in prevention to developing nations will seem cheap. Wasn’t it Ross Perot who said pennies on the dollar? A major hurricane or two could bankrupt Florida. A long list could be made on what AGW is costing now, much less what the future holds.

  17. Colorado Bob says:

    Food production -

    Drought stricken-Uruguay praises Argentina’s “formidable gesture”

    “Argentina is ready to supply us with thousands of tons of grains and food for cattle suffering the consequences of the drought”, said Mujica.

    http://en.mercopress.com/2010/12/27/drought-stricken-uruguay-praises-argentina-s-formidable-gesture

    Argentina’s soybean harvest may shrink 21 percent next year as dry weather delays planting and worsens growing conditions, Oil World said on Dec. 21. Output in five South American growing nations may drop by 8 million to 10 million tons, the researcher said. This year’s planted soybean crop in Argentina may fall by 200,000 hectares to 18.5 million hectares because of dry conditions, the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange said on Dec. 23.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-28/palm-oil-advances-to-a-33-month-high-as-dry-weather-curbs-soybean-outlook.html

  18. FedUpWithDenial says:

    The lesson would seem to be that there is no upper limit to human stupidity. Any particular case of stupidity is after all susceptible to being complicated by an indefinitely long list of aggravating factors—insanity, sheer malice, unconquerable greed, human self-destructiveness, cultivation of know-nothingism as a preferred state of mind, ingrained politico-religious ideology that subverts reason, dead-end irrationalism, unmovable cultural inertia, terminal sclerosis of the thinking faculties, and even a pathological general compulsion of our kind to self-immolate—species-level apoptosis, as it were.

    Mike Roddy at #12: You couldn’t have said it better. Congratulations—and happy second decade of the twenty-first century!

  19. Colorado Bob says:

    Greg Gobel , executive director of the Australian Red Cross in Brisbane, said access has been completely cut off to Rockhampton, a city of 75,000.

    Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2011/01/02/australia-floodwaters.html#ixzz19uqlk0D7

    Using Rockhampton as the litmus test, 918mm fell in the last six months of the year.

    This equated to the second-highest July-December rainfall total for Rockhampton Airport (see Rural Page on Friday for final figures).

    Rocky’s December total for 2010 was 523.8mm; 268mm fell in the four days from December 25-28.

    Places like the Blackdown Tablelands and the Isaac River near Yatton recorded double this rainfall which helped drive the floodwaters into the Dawson/Nogoa/Mackenzie Rivers and eventually the Fitzroy.

    http://www.themorningbulletin.com.au/story/2011/01/03/monsoon-trough-is-waiting/

  20. Michael T. says:

    Hottest Year

    by tamino

    “It’s near certain that in the GISS global temperature data set, 2010 will end up the hottest year on record. In fact some of those who deny the reality of global warming have already begun to “spin” the event, downplaying its significance by suggesting that observing the “hottest year” is no big deal. This, from the same people who believe in the mythical “levelling off” or “cooling” of temperatures over the last decade or so.”
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/hottest-year/

  21. Jim says:

    Increasingly I am seeing the MSM saying these extreme weather events are the hottest-most-dryest-wettest in the last ?many years while not mentioning that this figure is as far back as records go. In NZ I have seen both the Australian floods and the recent huge floods here in NZ being described as the highest for 150yrs. I can’t be sure yet about the NZ floods yet until I receive an answer to my query from NIWA but I suspect the NZ flood is unprecedented.
    Earlier in the year the Moscow heat wave was described as the hottest in 130yrs leaving the impression that 1879 was hotter and I think most people here thought that this was the case.

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Mike Roddy, it’s no surprise that Australians are sinking deeper into the slough of denialism. The media are stupefyingly reprehensible. The floods are being attributed entirely to the current La Nina, with explicit refutations that it could have anything to do with anthropogenic climate change or increased atmospheric water vapour. Indeed the latter fact I have not seen reported anywhere in the MSM. Murdoch’s apparatus is, as ever, at the epicentre of this denialism. Today’s ‘The Fundament’ (aka The Australian) has a typically disingenuous editorial which dismisses these floods as nothing new, when they are plainly, in many cases, far beyond historical records. Then it descends, typically, into ranting mode, abusing ‘green extremists’ (The Fundament always attaches the epithet ‘extremist’ to any description of environmentalists, and has vowed, in its editorials, to ‘destroy’ the Green Party which, from July, will control the balance of power in our Senate)for preventing the construction of sufficient large dams over recent decades. Of course, in the land of facts and far from Rightwing fanaticism, these dams were not built because there are few good sites left, hydrologists and ecologists advised against them, and massive grass-roots campaigns from those about to be inundated forestalled the waste of money.
    ‘The Fundament’ is, in my opinion, a particularly lurid example of the central factor that will make avoiding climate catastrophe, which, I believe it is plain, has already commenced, impossible. Fanatic Rightwing ideology which is capable of denying any calamity, refuting any science and ignoring the concerns of the relevant scientific authorities, all to the ends of protecting gigantic business empires and maintaining political dominance through mobilising the ignorant, stupid and those too scared to admit the wretched truth.

  23. LT says:

    “Rain has fallen across Queensland at up to six times the December average…Among the worst hit was the Mt Jukes area north of Mackay, which copped just over 1m – 1007mm of rain – last month.

    Gin Gin, a town of 3000 people 50km west of Bundaberg, received 800.1mm since the start of the month – six times the average of 121.5mm.

    Miriam Vale, near Gladstone, broke its 1921 December rainfall record with 821.2mm, well above the average 138.8mm.

    Brisbane – where the CBD gets on average about 133.3mm of rain in December – has seen 479.8mm last month so far.”

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/features/queensland-rainfall-six-times-the-december-average-in-2010/story-e6freorf-1225979643002

  24. quokka says:

    It’s worth noting that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has been warning of the high likelihood of this kind of flood event for months so it has come as no surprise to the public, government or the emergency services. In a rational world this should serve as a reminder to the deniers that such organizations do know a thing or two about meteorology, climate and climate change and should be listened to.

    The BOM is also warning of the very high likelihood of a very active cyclone season, so it is quite possible that we could do it all over again sometime in the next three months. “Unprecedented” tends to be a somewhat overused word, but that would certainly qualify.

  25. Leif says:

    Mulga Mumblebrain, @ 23: Took the words right out of my mouth. :<)

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    Over 1,000 Blackbirds Dropped Dead From the Sky in Arkansas This Weekend http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2011/01/thousands_of_blackbirds_just_d.html

    Massive fish kill blankets Arkansas River
    Arkansas officials are investigating the death of an estimated 100,000 fish in the state’s northwest and suspect disease was to blame, a state spokesman said Sunday.
    Biologists believe the bird deaths were stress-related from either fireworks or weather and are unrelated to the fish kill near Ozark, Stephens said. http://edition.cnn.com/2011/US/01/02/arkansas.fish.kill/

    Blame some chemical contamination, the recent “unusual” tornados or effects of dangerous climate change and species collapse? Or maybe a combination of all … which species is next to die in large numbers?

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    And ofc natural gas (methane) fracking ….

    Starting on September 20, 2010, the area around Guy has been plagued by more than 500 earthquakes. The temblors, ranging from 1.8 (barely noticeable) to 4.0 (obvious), are being investigated by the US Geologic Survey and the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission. The quakes may be related to the injection of salt and other waste water into deep wells to dispose of the fluid without contaminating surface or ground water. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy,_Arkansas

  28. Prokaryotes says:

    Rockhampton is tiny, Brisbane has 2,004,262 residents according to wiki.

    Australian city of Brisbane braces for flooding
    BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Military planes were flying food and other supplies toward a major city being slowly swamped in Australia’s flood emergency on Monday, and police were increasing patrols in evacuated regions amid reports of looting. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-12-30-australia-floods_N.htm

    This is why the media writes about biblical proportions, Brisbane is a real logistic nightmare …

    The city lies on the Fitzroy River, approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the river mouth

    The city is on a low-lying floodplain.[32] Many suburban creeks criss-cross the city, increasing the risk of flooding. The city has suffered two major floods since colonisation, in 1893 and 1974. The 1974 Brisbane flood occurred partly as a result of “Cyclone Wanda”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brisbane

    Flood waters in Brisbane

    It had been an exceptionally wet spring, and by the end of October most of southern Queensland’s river systems were nearing capacity. Cyclone Wanda pushed the systems to the limit, and drew the Monsoonal Trough southward, providing the additional rainfall to the Brisbane valley to produce widespread and severe flooding. The floods peaked at 6.6 meters according to the Port Office gauge at high tide at 2:15 am on January 29.
    Continual, heavy rain had fallen for three weeks, leading up to the flood, which occurred on Sunday, 29 January 1974, during the Australia Day weekend. Large areas were inundated, with at least 6,700 homes flooded. Damage at the time was estimated at some $200 million. The 67,320 tonne Robert Miller unmoored and became adrift in the river. Two tugs were needed to control the large oil tanker.[1] A barge was sunk after becoming caught under and damaging the Centenary Bridge. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1974_Brisbane_flood

    Now current situation, add this unusual ocean tides??!

    Brisbane flood warning
    January 1, 2011
    Brisbane City Council has issued a warning for minor flooding in some Brisbane suburbs during the next few days.

    An ocean anomaly is causing higher than usual tides, which could lead to minor tidal flooding in low lying areas of eastern Brisbane, the warning says. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/brisbane-flood-warning-20110101-19cf2.html

    Bureau of Meteorology hydrologist Jess Carey told AAP the Fitzroy River had reached 8.8 metres.

    It is due to hit the nine-metre mark on Monday and reach its peak of 9.4 metres on Wednesday, he said. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/victorian-ses-help-fight-floods-in-queensland/story-e6frf7l6-1225980117878

    So does this mean 3 meters above historic record flooding for Brisbane?

  29. Prokaryotes says:

    Made an mistake Brisbane is not near Fitzroy River, still wondering about the Brisbane flood water peak estimation.

  30. Ed Hummel says:

    Mulga Mumblebrain #23, I agree with Leif #26 100%!! The latest example of the right wing garbage machine here in the USA was Monica Crowley’s pronouncement on the McGlaughlin Group (PBS) that her pick for the story that is dead for this year is Cap and Trade, or any other climate related bill, since the whole human caused global warming “charade” has been thoroughly debunked as a fraud because of “Climategate”, and nobody picked her up on it by pointing out that climategate itself was a fraud and that the ones accused have been thoroughly exonerated multiple times both in the US and the UK, and that all the world’s scientific bodies unanimously agree to the problem and that it is getting worse as emmisions continue to rise, etc., etc. That’s what we’re up against and as Joe and others have pointed out time and again the MAIN STREAM MEDIA are the worst accomplices in all this lying and fraud by the deniers and their corporate funders and puppet masters. The sad thing is that most of them probably have no idea of what the real realities are!!!!

  31. Paulm says:

    Truly ominous times….

    http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/birds-fish-die-en-masse-in-arkansas-20110103-19dda.html

    An estimated 100,000 fish have died in the northwest of Arkansas, the same state where up to 5000 dead birds recently fell from the sky.

  32. Prokaryotes says:

    Brisbane records wettest December in 150 years

    The city has received almost four times its average December rainfall, with 480 millimetres, including 34 millimetres since 9am yesterday. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/weather/brisbane-records-wettest-december-in-150-years-20101228-198ta.html

    The weather bureau expects flood waters at St George, 500km west of Brisbane, to peak higher than 13m next weekend. It will be the second major flood in less than a year, with the town underwater last March. The bureau estimates the peak could be close to last year’s 13.39m mark, with the Balonne River rising above 11m yesterday.

    Balonne Shire Mayor Donna Stewart said some people had chosen to evacuate early. “We will have a better understanding of our situation once the flood peaks at Surat,” she said. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/thousands-brace-for-rising-water-as-queensland-flood-disaster-continues/story-e6frf7l6-1225980757557

    The Brisbane River is the longest river in south east Queensland, Australia, and flows through the city of Brisbane, before emptying into Moreton Bay. The river is dammed by the Wivenhoe Dam, forming Lake Wivenhoe, the main water supply for Brisbane. Flooding along the Brisbane River has the potential to be devastating. For much of the river’s length its banks are relatively high, but topped by a broad plain. The river’s sinuous course means that flood waters from upstream cannot be quickly discharged into Moreton Bay. Thus higher than normal flows cause river levels to rise rapidly and once the top of the banks are breached the floodwaters can spread over wide areas of the city. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brisbane_River

    Wivenhoe and Somerset dams have held back almost 400,000 megalitres of flood water during this event. Now that flows from the Lockyer Valley and Bremer have passed, this water will now be released over a number of days – minimizing the impact on downstream areas.

    There have been reports from residents in the upper Brisbane River that flood waters were as bad as in 1974. Without the dam, this water would have flowed down the Brisbane River at around the same time as flows from the Lockyer and Bremer – compounding local flooding.

    The Water Grid has coordinated closely with local councils to minimise downstream impacts of releases from all South East Queensland dams.

    “We have taken the advice of experts at the Water Grid in order to protect Queenslanders from these floodwaters,” Mr Robertson said. “The flood storage compartment means that we can hold back flood water, and make controlled releases when downstream flows subside.

    “Mr Langbroek and the LNP would have the Dam continue to fill, creating a risk for all those residents downstream. We will not take risks with the safety of Queenslanders during flood events.”
    http://media-newswire.com/release_1137581.html

    Without the dam, the flooding in Brisbane would have been as severe as the historic major flood from1974 – already.

  33. Joe–I spent the New Year’s weekend with relatives in Pittsburgh and then in Cumberland, Maryland. Driving through the Appalachian mountain area between Pennsylvania and Maryland, we passed a fundamentalist church that has a sign next to a metal superstructure announcing that they are building an ark.

    I had thought that this meant that they were building a representational replica of the Biblical Ark. After reading this post, I wonder whether they are perhaps constructing an ark that they plan to use in the near future.

  34. quokka says:

    #30 Prokaryotes

    Major flooding is not expected in Brisbane. The last major flooding in Brisbane occurred in the very damaging 1974 floods. Since then the Wivenhoe dam has been built for water storage and flood mitigation. In 1974 the river was up about 20 ft in the centre of the city and from memory something like 60 ft upstream. Nothing like this is expected this time. There is of course some local flooding.

  35. Chris ODell says:

    Just a small typo – the line should read “125% *above* normal” not “125% of normal”. There is a large difference between the two!

  36. Michael says:

    While eastern Australia is having epic flooding, things are very different for southwestern Australia:

    PERTH faces a week of blistering heat with four consecutive days of searing 40C maximum temperatures as 2010 is declared the hottest year on record.

    Maximum temperatures in Perth averaged at 25.3C, making 2010 the hottest year since records began in 1897.

    Meanwhile, Perth recorded just 503mm of rain this year, well below the average 868.3mm, making it the second driest year on record.

    Next week’s heatwave follows baking temperatures across Southern Australia with blistering New Year’s Eve temperatures forecast for Melbourne and Adelaide as Queensland battles record floods.

    http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/perth-to-sizzle-in-new-year-heatwave/story-e6frg13u-1225978806936

    So it is Hell and High Water.

  37. Prokaryotes says:

    Australian floods: residents facing plague of deadly snakes as waters rise
    Australians whose homes have been inundated with floodwater in the state of Queensland are now facing the threat of deadly snakes as the reptiles move into dry buildings to avoid the rising waters.

    Extra snakebite antivenom, including brown snake antivenom, has been airlifted into the city of Rockhampton, one of the worst-hit parts of the state.
    Health officials have warned residents to be on the look out for dangerous snakes, spiders and even crocodiles that have been forced out of their natural habitats and onto higher ground by the natural disaster.
    Barry Moessinger, who lives in a low-lying part of Rockhampton, said he had spotted about 15 snakes each day over the past week.
    “There’s heaps of them,” he told the Australian newspaper.
    “We had a plague of mice, a lot of frogs, so we knew the snakes would come.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/8236894/Australian-floods-residents-facing-plague-of-deadly-snakes-as-waters-rise.html

  38. Prokaryotes says:

    Dozens injured in Australian cinema roof collapse

    (AFP) – 4 hours ago
    SYDNEY — Thirty-six people were injured when the ceiling of an Australian cinema partially collapsed Monday after heavy rain, but nobody is believed to be trapped, police said.
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gyZFEA9F8hdrvT6LLwmhar03jgXw?docId=CNG.c457e10cd9f8be1dd3262621efd6b761.1d1

    Rain brings roof collapse …

  39. paulm says:

    Oh dear !!!
    How fast can the ice sheets melt?

    Ice sheet melt water doubles in a year
    http://www.icenews.is/index.php/2011/01/02/ice-sheet-melt-water-doubles-in-a-year/

    A glaciologist has warned that, after a year of record-breaking temperatures, the Greenland ice sheet is “retreating and thinning extensively” and global warming is “worse than ever”.

  40. Colorado Bob says:

    quokka @ 25 -
    Thanks for that info.

  41. Colorado Bob says:

    At least five people have been killed in severe flooding and landslides caused by torrential rains in eastern and southern Philippines, reports said on Monday.

    http://www.rttnews.com/Content/GeneralNews.aspx?Id=1517675&SM=1

    Sri Lanka: 300,000 hit by Batti floods
    A staggering 331,000 residents have been rendered homeless due to the incessant rains in the eastern province.
    People displaced due to the flash floods are currently languishing in makeshift camps, schools, temples and churches according to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC).
    The government has taken immediate measures to assist the people who have been affected due to floods resulting from continuous downpour.
    Deputy Resettlement Minister Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan, who visited Batticaloa, said it was one of the worst floods in the recent times.
    “More than 300,000 people have been affected. Hundreds of acres of paddy crops are also destroyed due to the floods,” Muralitharan said.

    http://www.nation.lk/2011/01/02/news3.htm

  42. Nick says:

    Many annual records broken in Queensland’s Fitzroy basin,with stations reporting two to three times the mean:

    Springsure,wettest year since 1865 when records began.

    Taroom,wettest year since 1870 since records began.

    Bauhinia Downs,wettest year since 1890,ditto

    Injune,wettest year since 1925,ditto

    December 27th saw record 24hr totals for some stations.

    Record river heights recorded on the Dawson and Nogoa Rivers within the Fitzroy basin,and on several other rivers in other catchments

    Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology will have a special statement available within a week or two.

  43. Colorado Bob says:

    GAUHATI, India (AP) — In this humid, lush region where an important part of the world’s breakfast is born, the evidence of climate change is — literally — a weak tea.

    Growers in tropical Assam state, India’s main tea growing region, say rising temperatures have led not only to a drop in production but to subtle, unwelcome changes in the flavor of their brews.

    The area in northeastern India is the source of some of the finest black and British-style teas. Assam teas are notable for their heartiness, strength and body, and are often sold as “breakfast” teas.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ixuiaWhAZML2Ky91jMs1rZQjbZ-Q?docId=c8078998f62c446f8666a59a38704b65

  44. #31 “The sad thing is that most of them probably have no idea of what the real realities are!!!!”

    I suspect that this has much more than a grain of truth. Remember that what we are trying to overcome is a centuries old “truth” that man has dominion over the Earth and it is ours to use as we please; that is why our economic system is built on the assumption that all Earth’s resources and services are “free” to use. Using language like “biblical proportions” carefully keeps responsibility away from our actions and is entirely in keeping with this style of thinking.

    As a species, our greatest horrors (e.g. Nazi Germany, Rwanda, Cambodia) are mostly ascribed to groups of people working together while our greatest successes tend to be ascribed to individuals (e.g. Wright brothers for flight, Michelangelo in art, even Tim Berners Lee for the internet). This very often gets carried into the business world where success for an entity means big bonuses for the individual leader but failure is caused by market forces (Enron and one or two other notable exceptions accepted).

    The root “cause” of AGW is a failure in the economic system and the thing that is going to be most affected is the way we conduct our economic activity. The Australian floods have “cost” billions of dollars but, thankfully, only one life so far and it will be a while before that ration changes much.

    People do find it very difficult to imagine what might really be going on outside of their own immediate world but they are pretty good at understanding what the “rules of the game” are in any given situation. The ones who figure it out quickest or smartest and decide to play are the one who thrive in any given situation. If we focus on changing the rules of the economic game such that those who live with or nourish the planets ecosystems are better rewarded that those that destroy them, there is a chance we might start to turn things round.

  45. Colorado Bob says:

    Dec. 24th 2010 -

    Columbia some totals -

    He recalled that this is the worst tragedy that has prevailed in the country by the number of victims and the extent of the catastrophe that according to the latest police report also left 294 wounded, 2.16 million affected, around 1.32 million hectares of agricultural land 3.353 flooded and destroyed homes. According to Santos, the rains in Colombia have been more damaging than what happened with Hurricane Katrina which hit New Orleans, United States, because “the big difference that is not a single city flooded, but a whole country! “

    http://www.coffetoday.com/colombian-president-hoped-that-his-country-to-be-free-from-tragedy/906657/

  46. Peter M says:

    The events in Australia, ended the year 2010′s list of extreme weather, from the heat in Russia, and in the USA-floods in Pakistan, increasing warmth in the high latitudes, along with many other bizarre climate events throughout the world.

    Was 2010 a fluke happening? or is it a harbinger for 2011 that will see more freak events, growing in number and damage to infrastructure, agriculture, with more human suffering?

    The climate models, and the prognostications from the IPCC and climatologists Dr. Mann & Hansen say we should see more climatic extremes in the future as instability increases from the enhanced warming in the atmosphere.

    One must wonder, however how bad must things become, before our national Government and A useless media will stop covering over the growing number of catastrophes worldwide.

    I see the events we are seeing will reach a ‘breaking point’ soon. Global warming Will begin to take center stage in the News globally within a few years. It remains to be seen however- what government reaction will be.

    In the USA we have 2 years of nothing being accomplished- hopefully those 63 seats gained by the far right will switch in 2012. Sadly this will happen only if we see an acceleration of catastrophic weather events happening- and many within the USA.

  47. Tom Gibbons says:

    There is an article in the 1-2-11 Des Moines Register recapping reasons for flooding in Iowa over the last few years. There has been a trend in the state, similar to the global trend, of more and stronger precipitation. They worked with some scientists at Iowa State University and therefore did list Global Warming as a cause although they did discuss some other problems as well. It seems that the extent of the flooding exceeds what the increased rain could account for, and extra drainage from farms might play a part. If you look at the article, you might also entertain yourself with some of the comments at the end partly from some of the right-wing folks who try to dominate such forums. Some of the comments are so ill-informed that they actually seem funny, but there are also answers from a number of people including yours truly. The article is at http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20110102/NEWS/101020341/1001/River-rage-Why-Iowa-s-flood-risk-is-rising

  48. A face in the clouds says:

    Mulga (and everyone here), don’t understimate the power of small town newspapers. Also remember that reporters and editors are fundamentally lazy.

    Scout the fringes of the internet where a lot of the propaganda bubbles up. It can be a creepy and disburbing place, but it gives one a good heads-up, not to mention an opportunity to attack.

    And don’t hesitate to say, “I told you so in advance.”

  49. Richard Brenne says:

    On the Weather Channel I just heard an Australian woman governmental representative say something like “It’s likely we won’t see flooding like this for another 50 or 100 years.”

    Yes, it will be far, far worse. Not identical, not necessarily in the same way, place or time of year, but Australia like every other country will see flooding that makes this look like nothing.

    This flooding, as with that in Pakistan, Nashville and many other places this year, comes with about a 1 degree Fahrenheit increase in global average temperature since 1970, which leads to increased evaporation and thus 4 per cent more water vapor in the atmosphere.

    That combines with energy added to the system (over 90 per cent going into the heating of the oceans) that since 1970 is estimated to be like adding 190,000 nuclear power plants (according to expert CP commentator Leif Knutsen and others) working 24/7, with 10 additional power plants coming on line each day.

    The result is the certainty of more dramatic precipitation events of all kinds, including snow where it is cold enough to snow. That certainty of increase is over enough time and globally, with the likelihood increasing in any given place as years go by.

    The ultra-conservative (by the nature of such a multi-national beast) IPCC predicts we could see an increase of 10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, which would mean there would be a 40 PER CENT increase in water vapor in the atmosphere, with the energy output of more like 1,900,000 nuclear power plants operating 24/7.

    That would create a climate no human who has ever lived would even remotely recognize. Rainfall like that means that superstorms could produce three feet of standing or running water on most of Anthro-Earth’s land, with water 20 feet or more deep in low-lying areas.

    So this Australian Minister of Schlocky Science or Aussie PR or whatever she was needs to do her homework before she opens her mouth and makes the cobwebs visible where a brain should be.

    And so should everyone else.

  50. Esop says:

    I just read about the extreme flooding in the leading Norwegain newspaper. Apparently, it is caused by the La Nina.

  51. Sou says:

    Some people in Australia are speaking out about the link with global warming. Leading Australian scientist, Prof David Karoly attributes the record rains in Queensland to human emissions of CO2 and says to expect more of the same up north (of Australia) in the future. Southern Australia will get hotter and drier.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2010/12/31/3104537.htm

    Yes, La Nina brought the rains, but La Nina in the past has never been as wet over such a large area as this time around – at least not since records started.

    The City of Rockhampton (pop 75,000) ia now totally cut off and isolated (road, rail and air), affecting not just Rocky itself, but also north south travel – eg Mackay/Townsville/Cairns to Brisbane.

  52. MiMo says:

    I though that climate change was going to make Australia drier (see http://www.climatechange.com.au/tag/drought/ as an example)

    [JR: Some parts drier, some parts wetter -- it's a big place. You might look at this -- "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." The key point is that when it does rain, it will pour.]

  53. Colorado Bob says:

    The key point is that when it does rain, it will pour, …….

    ……… from the Guardian . ” It was raining so hard, you couldn’t see a man standing in front of you ” …………..

    ” In more than 60 hours of non-stop torrential rainfall, the floods washed all that away. The north-west normally receives 500mm (20in) of rain in the month of July; over one five-day period 5,000mm fell. “It was incredible,” said Sameenullah Afridi, a local United Nations official. “

  54. John McCormick says:

    RE # 48

    Richard Breene,

    I read your comment and your view: “Yes, it will be far, far worse.”

    That statement really became personal when I recalled recently coming upon a young mother holding her beautiful seven month old daughter who was just learning to smile at strangers. She scored a solid 10.

    As I admired her, I also thought she will be my age in 2067 and what kind of world will she inhabit. That thought haunts me.

    John McCormick

    John McCormick

  55. Prokaryotes says:

    Heavy floods leave 20 dead in Brazil in past week

    RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Authorities say steady rain over the past week has flooded creeks and created landslides in southeastern Brazil, killing 20 people and forcing thousands out of their homes.
    Civil defense officials in the state of Mines Gears released a statement saying that seven people died Monday, including a 6-month-old baby, when a hillside collapsed on their home. Other victims include a man who drowned in an overflowing creek Wednesday, and four others who died Thursday in a landslide. Authorities say 29 have been injured, and 965 are homeless.

    Officials in Esparto Santo state said in a statement that five people died this week in the floods: three when their house collapsed, one trying to cross a bridge over an overflowing river, and one swept up by floodwaters. Sixteen people have been hurt there, and 551 are homeless.
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2011-01-03-brazil_N.htm

  56. Richard Brenne says:

    John McCormick (#53) – I’ve always enjoyed your very thoughtful comments, especially ones like this that are so deeply human and caring – exactly what we need. I share your feelings for all children. Thanks.

  57. Prokaryotes says:

    South Africa

    Torrential rain dampens New Year festivities

    Heavy rains turned what was expected to be exuberant New Year celebrations in many parts of the Free State into something of a nightmare.

    Revellers hardly had space to party as heavy waters and strong winds made it virtually impossible for taverns and similar spots to open, or stay open. The very few taverns that managed to temporarily open were forced to close early.

    Ibrahim Mohammed, owner of the popular Johnsons’ tavern in Bloemfontein, told The New Age; “Because it was the first day of the year and a Saturday, and because of our responsibility to our customers, we managed to open our tavern but the rain spoilt everything.”

    “The few people who turned up could hardly enter because of the heavy floods all around the entrance, and even those who braved the weather were clearly not enjoying their drinks.

    Due to the heavy downpours, many cars had to travel at no more than a snail’s pace, while in some townships the furniture in many houses was destroyed.

    Pastor Thabo Mafike from Mangaung contacted The New Age to say that he was inundated with calls from many people in his area whose property had been destroyed or damaged.

    “Many of them are in tears as they have lost so much. Nobody could have imagined such a terrible start to the New Year.”

    Simenge Raselebedi, a tavern owner in Phahameng location, said; “This is the day that I always make great profit, but the rains have made it a nightmare.

    “Most people are depressed and cannot even leave their homes. I have had two incredibly quiet days.

    It’s impossible to believe it’s the New Year.”
    http://www.thenewage.co.za/7024-1018-53-Torrential_rain_dampens_New_Year_festivities

  58. espiritwater says:

    I have the same problem, John (#53). I almost have to avert my gaze so they won’t see my concern. And I love children!

  59. John McCormick says:

    RE # 57

    espiritwater, since we share those awkward and troubling moments when we reflect on their future as we see children playing, being children, it makes me wonder why we don’t hear from child advocacy groups about the fears they have regarding their ‘clients’ future in a global warming world.

    Childrens Defense Fund is a great organization that should be recruited to get into people’s faces to make them see what we are doing to our children. Check them out and contact them.

    John McCormick

  60. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Richard Brenne #48, that is precisely the type of climate denialism that is rampant, no ubiquitous, in Australia at the moment. Unable to deny the reality of record floods, the denialists, which means the entire mainstream media with one or two, minor exceptions, (such as the short talk given by Karolyi, as mentioned by sou #50) and most of the political establishment simply dismiss it as ‘nothing unusual’. This is a difficult lie to push, as the record precipitation and record extent and height of the floods is pretty undeniable, but repetition of lies until they become ‘common knowledge’ is an old tactic. Then we are told that these floods are ‘once in a lifetime events’, when we can be pretty darn sure that they won’t be. The fact that atmospheric water vapour is up, and that climate scientists have long predicted such deluges, is nearly totally censored. And, rather amazingly, unless you think of the media as a propaganda system, all the weather disasters, particularly the unprecedented, or only very rarely previously seen, floods and ferocious precipitation events, are never linked into one cogent, intelligent, global narrative. You are far, far, more likely to see some helminthine gibberer fulminating that the snowfall in Europe and the USA proves that anthropogenic climate change is a gigantic conspiracy by ‘warmists’ from the UN and closet socialists bent on destroying the ineffable, God-ordained beauty of market capitalism and free individuals by putting up our taxes!! (Stops to wipe spittle from computer screen).

  61. Richard Brenne says:

    Mulga (#62) – Your rant was so great I had to wipe the spittle from my screen as well! Keep up the great work! Your comments are world-class!

  62. Sou says:

    The thing is that the media aren’t very good at reporting natural disasters unless they affect those living in the larger cities. In Australia that usually means the State capital cities. Floods in rural areas and towns might rate a mention if national highways are cut. No mention of the roads that are impassable for weeks after a flood event if they are only state highways. The very large fires of the past seven years across Victoria were only given much coverage days or even weeks after they started, once the smoke from those fires finally blanketed Melbourne or burnt the outer suburbs of Melbourne. The extended drought was mostly reported insofar as it affected the water supplies of the capital cities. The Queensland floods this year are just too big to ignore. How many people remember the northern floods of two years ago? They only covered an area the size of Victoria!

    Given that most people live in the cities and many no longer have strong connections with other parts of the country, a lot of people probably aren’t even aware of the increasing frequency or geographic scope of extreme and record weather events.

  63. Prokaryotes says:

    Australian emergency workers face another problem when evacuating people or providing supplies.

    Aussies hit by obesity epidemic

    More than 7.5 million Australians are now estimated to be overweight or obese, accounting for two-thirds of all men, half the women and one quarter of the nation’s children.

    International studies consistently rank Australia among the fattest countries in the world, with the nation’s Baker Heart Institute in 2008 suggesting it faced a “fat bomb” outranking even that in the United States.

    The Royal Flying Doctors, Australia’s iconic outback air ambulance, is the latest service to supersize, announcing last month that it was seeking larger aircraft to cope with heavier patients.

    “Obesity stands alongside our ageing population as the most significant challenge facing our health system,” an ambulance spokeswoman said.

    “The prevalence of overweight and obesity within our community is at an all-time high,” she said.

    The new Flying Doctors planes will be able to carry total patient loads of up to 260 kilogram, while with current aircraft individual patients weighing more than 140 kilogram must travel by road.

    The planes will join a fleet of “mega lift” road ambulances already in use in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state.

    A typical “mega lift” road ambulance operation in New South Wales is used for patients heavier than 180 kilogram and can involve police and firefighters, the spokeswoman said. http://www.themorningbulletin.com.au/story/2009/02/09/aussies-hit-by-obesity-epidemic/

  64. Sou says:

    @ Prokaryotes #65, the Baker Institute based on headline study on people who volunteered for diabetes tests in a local chemist shop (pharmacy), and didn’t allow at all for ‘self selection’. They have no credibility as far as I’m concerned.

    That’s not to say that obesity and overweight isn’t a problem here in Australia. Just that the Baker Institute shamelessly and deliberately exaggerated the problem, presumably for reasons of their own.

  65. Sou says:

    Previous post should read “one headline study”, not on headline study. (It was released as a publicity / policy paper rather than a scientific paper – such things can give scientists a bad name.)

    Otherwise the Baker Institute does some good cardiac research, I believe.

  66. Chris Winter says:

    N.B. — Mulga Mumblebrain’s use of “helminthine” puzzled me. I had to look it up. Apparently it means, roughly, “wormlike.” (Ref. the flatworms, phylum platyhelminthes, lowest of the worm phyla.)

    This word will take its place alongside batrachian (toadlike.) Thanks, Mulga.

  67. janine says:

    awesum site
    great read
    happy new year

  68. Richard says:

    La Niña event is now linked to CO2 and AGW? The article linked gave you the cause.