On 25 January 2011 the BoM published an amended SPECIAL CLIMATE STATEMENT 24 (SCS24) originally published on 7 Jan on the subject “An extremely wet end to 2010 leads to widespread flooding across eastern Australia.”
The revised SCS24 is nearly doubled in size and is titled, “Frequent heavy rain events in late 2010/early 2011 lead to widespread flooding across eastern Australia.”
The revised SCS24 downplays the huge rain events in Feb 1893 – on page 7 of 28 the BoM says – “Insufficient rainfall data exist for a comprehensive assessment of the 1893 event. However, the available station data indicate that peak rainfalls in the region during the 1893 event were much heavier than those during either the 1974 or 2011 events.”
First I would say – there is plenty of rainfall data from 1893 to allow the Feb 1893 floods event to be realistically compared in various ways with 1974 and 2010/11 – for example on maps – or as I show below with a few examples – by way of a table.
Second I would say that referring to “peak rainfalls” could leave an impression that overall the rain in the 1893 event was not so notable but there were heavy periods. Which is an incorrect impression for the BoM to leave readers with in terms of much of SE Qld.
At the end of para 3 on page 6 of the SCS24 the BoM says about Dec 2010- “At some stations, particularly in Queensland (Table 2), it was the wettest month (i.e., compared against all calendar months) on record.” I would like to see that statement quantified – it looks dubious to me. The crux of my complaint is that having made that statement – the BoM should have gone on to say that in many stations in SE Qld and in the Brisbane catchment - rain in Feb 1893 was higher than that for Dec 2010 and was often the highest monthly rain on record.
On page 20 of the BoM SCS24 – Table 2 commences which records “Selected record monthly rainfall totals which have occurred during December 2010 at locations with 50 or more years of data. Values shown in bold are records for any calendar month.”
Queensland stations are mainly on pages 21 – 22 and 23 and note that on page 23 the BoM quotes Feb 1893 data for three stations – where it is lower than the Dec 2010 reading.
I say to the BoM – “if you take the trouble to point out where Feb 1893 rain was LOWER than Dec 2010 (see page 23) – then why not tell us also when it was HIGHER – because there is an important national issue here of putting flood history and associated rain data correctly in perspective.”. As I write it looks clear that one political response to the Brisbane floods this month will be to rebuild on the floodplain and spread the cost over Australian taxpayers. Surely it is vital our leaders understand that rainfall as severe as Feb 1893 could hit Brisbane again.
In my webpage table I go down the BoM station list adding alternative stations in the row beneath in italics – where I find the BoM report deceptive in not quoting rain totals from February 1893 – my examples are from SE Queensland obviously due to the huge flood issues. I have not tried to tabulate all Feb 1893 rain – but my time is limited – I am sure readers can find many other examples.
My data comes from the BoM (thanks for website data) and Australian Weather News – I am in awe of the work Laurier Williams puts into this huge resource.