Australian Bureau of Meteorology report conceals details of high rainfall in February 1893

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 2122 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.

21 comments to Australian Bureau of Meteorology report conceals details of high rainfall in February 1893

  • cementafriend

    Warwick as always you are correct about BOM’s poor record of assessing the available data. I mentioned some data previously in my posts on about the Commission of enquiry www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=793#comments. I understand that the 1893 weather around Brisbane was called the “Mooloolah Event” which was a cyclonic weather pattern. There was a weather station at the Mooloolah Post Office 40136 (on the rail line in the Mooloolah Valley) indicated to have opened in 1888 and closed 02 Mar 2001. On the 1st Feb 1893 the recorded rain was 413.5mm , on 2nd Feb 739.4mm, on 3rd Feb 562.1mm & 16th Feb 336.6mm. January 1893 had 417mm and February 1893 2655 mm. Maybe there is newspaper information but no doubt Mooloolabah (outlet of the Mooloolah River)and Kawana would have been under water for a considerable length of time made worse by high tides. I understand that the State Government has bought dregged land at Kawana for a hospital! Was that on based on misinformation from BOM and reliance of the State Climate Change Department predictions from false IPCC information which should have nothing to do with local weather?

  • Peter West

    Not to mention the floods for which we definitely do not have comprehensive data. See the various reports in

    reg.bom.gov.au/hydro/flood/qld/fld_history/brisbane_history.shtml

    especially regarding 1841 and 1824/25. For the latter, only the reports of flood debris at Mt Crosby are available, but for 1841 there is more information. It seems to have been bigger than 1893.

    In 1896, JB Henderson, the Government Hydraulics Engineer in an address to Parliament reported that he found by examination of earlier plans that the 1841 flood was [7 centimetres] higher than the flood of 5th February 1893.”

    The number of major floods recorded in the 1800s if quite remarkable.

  • Kandler

    The statement “…peak rainfalls in the region during the 1893 event were much heavier than…” seems clear enough to me. After all they say “in the region”.

    Sure, they don’t dwell on 1893,because they are recording the events of 2010/11 with reference to other great La Ninas and in passing comparing the conditions in the Brisbane River catchment during only two recent major floods in living memory. The spatial distribution of stations is thinner in 1893. There is good material elsewhere at BOM on specific floods in Queensland as Peter @ 2 links,and I don’t think anyone interested is unaware that the 1893 floods were the biggest reliably observed.

  • Dead right we are getting sick of this green busted climate gate scam ,1stits no rain to fill dams now its we predicted rain they don’t have a clue what they are talking about even the NASA data was faked www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsQfr7wRZsw , funny isn’t it everyone pushing the scam is making money off the scam , its about time we had honest scientists doing the job ,everyone who knows anything knows its impossible to predict chaotic theory which is what climate is ,and c02 the blame has to be the joke of the century.

  • philipi

    Peter, that BOM flood record needs to be
    compulsory reading in all schools.
    It clearly shows that there were 8 major
    floods between 1925 and 1900 and only 3 between
    1900 and 2011. How do these facts square with
    Brown’s comments on increasing catastrophies.

  • LDLAS

    Maybe you can use this although it doesn’t mention the 1893 floods.

    www.archive.org/stream/climateweatherof00huntrich#page/n3/mode/2up

  • observa

    And don’t forget Tracy’s ugly step-sister Trixie-
    Tropical cyclone Trixie was the seventh cyclone of the 1974/75 season to operate in the Northwestern Australian Region and at the time it was considered to be one of the most intense tropical cyclones recorded on the Australian coast.”
    Easy to forget the ones that don’t impact much on heavily populated areas. 1700km that water travelled, evaporating and soaking away across the arid interior until it swept away the best laid flood proofing plans of Trans Australian Railway engineers as it emptied into the Great Australian Bight.

  • observa

    And for the current crop of warmenistas it’s worth remembering-
    “The wind gust of 246 km/h at Onslow is the highest recorded on an anemograph in Australia.”
    bearing in mind your pet scientists were forecasting the next Ice Age at the time.

  • cementafriend

    Thanks LDLAS, I downloaded the book (The Climate and weather of Australia Hunt et al 1913)as a PDF (29MB) so I can read at my leisure. Looks to be very helpful to refute those who claim that weather is becoming more variable and with more severe events. It seems that the book can also be downloaded for a Kindle (message at Amazon) but I only have Kindle for PC.
    Anyway it is good to know that many Government books and out of copyright books are now available for free on the internet.
    Keep strong

  • Geoff Sherrington

    It get me down that the taxes and donations will be mostly used for rebuilding in areas already shown to flood. If we are going to keep these areas active, we need at least a solution like raising the homes on stilts, as older Queenslanders like me well remember.

    Then for Brisbane, there is the Wivenhoe Dam problem. Part of the flood was caused by water release. Expensive though it might be, perhaps the dam’s discharge pipes should be continued on the bed of the Brisbane River to Moreton Bay.

    At present, there is no way the BOM can be confident of predictions, but there is also no way to avoid a repeat unless there is some imaginative engineering.

    As for Toowoomba, the water path is now well documented and it shows a watercourse running through the town with a possible contriction around the Station St rail yards. Is it not possible to divert the stream course away from the city centre?

    It is interesting that both Toowoomba and Brisbane flooded. There is an escapment dividing the 2 basins, just E of Toowoomba. So, on a micro scale, one can’t use the rainfall East of the divide in an analysis of the problems of Toowoomba, nor the rainfall west of the Divide to predict problems for Brisbane and its valley hinterland like Hepburn and Gatton.

  • Lawrie Ayres

    It would seem that gaining and archiving as much history as possible will pay dividends in the future. The old saying ” those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it” is so very true. Yet we appear to have governments, schools and agencies hell bent on modifying history for political reasons. The BoM have climbed so far on the back of global warming that it is doubtful we will ever be able to rely on their data again.

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  • WSH

    I have downloaded a list of 4000 Qld weather stations from this site. 424 looked to be reporting in Feb 1893. I made a map of Feb 1893 rain from a subset of 63 from far SE Qld. If I can do this then the BoM could have easily provided a map panel similar to Fig 5 in SCS24. There is a map of Brisbane catchments – plus interactive maps. Links to Queensland Flood History and Brisbane floods. Incidentally – the third BoM map in the SCS24 Fig 5 – page 13 of 28 – really needs an enlarged panel for far SE Qld with town locations so readers can pick the differences clearer in the Brisbane catchment – which is surely the whole point of the exercise.

  • Kandler

    Agree,WSH. SCS 24’s comparison graphics of 1974 and 2011 are not as useful as they could be,the scale is useless…and it would be far better to compare the 4 day totals, 25-28/1/1974 and 9-12/1/2011,rather than 3s. And one week totals.

    Another significant factor I’ve noticed is that at all stations I’ve checked so far [12] in the Wivenhoe catchment,the week preceding this flood was much wetter than the week preceding 1974’s,so soikl moisture conditions would have been primed.

  • It seems a bit odd that the BoM believes there is “insufficient rainfall data for a comprehensive assessment of the 1893 event” when the Australian Bureau of Statistics (who are usually pretty fussy with data) could publish their 2008 Australian Yearbook article titled “HOW DO WE KNOW ABOUT CLIMATE IN THE PERIOD BEFORE INSTRUMENTS?”.

    www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/7d12b0f6763c78caca257061001cc588/ee757a3d884140bdca2573d200110d50

    Using these data, an assessment about rainfall in mainland eastern Australia can be made from the mid-1860s onwards. The 1870-95 period was a rather wet one in most regions, generally comparable with the 1950-80 period. There were a few significant drought years (notably 1877 and 1888, along with 1865 in South Australia – which was the drought which prompted Goyder’s seminal report), but wet conditions were generally predominant. The 1885-95 period was especially wet in Queensland and much of New South Wales, with some parts of inland Queensland recording ten-year means up to 40% above the long-term average – beyond anything experienced in the wettest parts of the 1950s or 1970s. The years 1890 and 1893 were the wettest on record at many long-term sites.

    Rainfall anomalies during the 1885-95 period were less extreme, although still positive, in the southern states. In this region the late-1870s and early-1880s were rather dry, following a very wet period in the early-1870s (1870 was an especially wet year). The 1870-95 period was also generally wetter than long-term averages at the few tropical sites in Queensland and the Northern Territory from which data exist. In the coastal south-west of Western Australia, the 1877-1900 period (for which some data exist) was generally drier than the first half of the 20th century, but wetter than the post-1970 period.

    The ABS description of Australian temperatures in the last 1000 to 2000 years is a bit more dodgy because it’s based on tree rings from Huon pines on Mt Read in western Tasmania. However, it’s still worth noting a few lines:

    It suggests that multi-decade means of temperature in the second half of the 20th century were the highest of the last 3,600 years, but not by a large margin, with temperatures almost as high being sustained over a much longer period at various times between 900 and 1500 AD. (It should be noted that this data set ends in 1992 and instrumental data indicate further warming since.)* The data also suggest that the early part of the 20th century was rather cold by the standards of the last 3,600 years.

    * See www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/climate/change/timeseries.cgi?graph=tmean&area=aus&season=0112&ave_yr=0

    As for extreme weather such as cyclones generated by AGW (presumably starting around 1950):

    The number of tropical cyclones in the Australian region has declined slightly since the 1950s, particularly in the Queensland sector (largely as a consequence of changes in the frequency of El Niño and La Niña over that time), but there is insufficient information to draw firm conclusions on the frequency of intense tropical cyclones over that period.

  • WSH

    Good find Chris – I notice their Fig S1.2 is v dodgy ignoring late 19C data much of which is relatively warm. We know the BoM does this on the basis the pre-1907 data was not collected in Stevenson screens – in many cases just another BoM myth. As our archives and old newspapers increasingly become searchable online – more and more examples of Stevenson screens pre-1907 keep turning up.
    See links here.
    If you scroll down here;
    you see the graph for “25 regional and remote Australian stations” and the 19C warmth the BoM wishes to censor out.

  • Romanoz

    John Hodgkinson has a good discussion on the 1893 floods and compares them with 1974 and 2011. He uses inflows which the Government has calculated using its IQQM computer model.
    The 1893 inflows would be 7,500 gigalitres whereas the 1974 was 3,700 gigalitres. The 2011 inflows were only 70% of 1974. So 2011 was a “baby”.
    John mentions that there were 3 floods in 1893, two in February and one in June.
    He also has an interesting discussion of the problems of flood mitigation when people are blinkered by “Global Warming” hysteria.
    Funnily, they seem to focus on the wrong problem, eg mythical droughts, rather than the real problem, as in this case, of flooding. The tri-purposes nature of Wivenhoe Dam – water supply, flood mitigation and environmental flows ( which by law must be 66% of dam supply) mean that its flood mitigation function is severely compromised.

  • WSH

    I am puzzled JVH talks about Borumba Dam – which I thought was in the Mary catchment.
    For example under the heading;
    “Volume that the Dam Managers have at their disposal”

    he says – “With the Borumba in place, they have at our disposal flood compartments of 1,400,000ML Wivenhoe,…..”
    I no follow – and the other few refs to Borumba puzzle me too.

  • cementafriend

    Warwick you are correct the Borumba Dam is in the Mary River catchment on Yabba Yabba creek near Imbil. Nice private camping area nearby, next to a deer farm. There is one of those old Merry-go-rounds (hop on – hop off type -can’t think of the actual name) for the kids who can spend hours on it. Do not see them in council owned play grounds now -probably banned as too dangerous. Many engineers suggested similar dams on other tributaries eg on the Obi Obi Creek downstream from the Baroon Pocket Dam, instead of the Mary River dam at Traveston. The Queensland Government wanted to rush through the dam to spite the Liberals and Nationals in the area and did not put forward other options which may have been more viable due to a) lots of rainfall, b) reduced evaporation, c) land purchases, d) less affect on agricultural land etc

  • […] Errors in IPCC climate science » Blog Archive » Australian Bureau … Thanks LDLAS, I downloaded the book (The Climate and weather of Australia Hunt et al 1913)as a PDF (29MB) so I can read at my leisure. Looks to be very helpful to refute those who claim that weather is becoming more variable and with … Jan 01, 1970 12:00am […]

  • This is a long post and a bit off-topic from the page theme, but I think it’s worth your time …

    I read Warwick’s June 2010 post “Distortions being spread about Australian meteorological history” (www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=604) and thought it might be worth checking “The Climate of Western Australia 1876-1899″ (www.archive.org/download/climateofwestern00cookrich/climateofwestern00cookrich.pdf – 25.4mb), authored by Government Astronomer William Cooke and published in 1901.

    On page 14, it reads… “The mean minimum in the Stevenson screen for July is 39.1 at Southern Cross and 39.5 at Katanning.” It doesn’t reveal the date of Stevenson Screen installation but the document was published in 1901.

    If you’re able to download this large historic document, it’s worth looking at the readings for central Perth on page 15:

    From 1876 to 1899, the average mean max from November to March inclusive at Perth Observatory (1876-1885: 86F) and Perth Gardens (1886 to 1899: 83.9F) was 84.95F (29.4C)

    At Perth Metro office (www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_009225.shtml) from 1994 to 2010, the average mean max from November to March inclusive was 29.4C.

    i.e. … identical when rounded to Celsius but those five months were actually .18 degrees F warmer in the last 24 years of the 19th century than in the last 16 years to 2010.

    Yes, these are different locations but the 19th century readings are an average of two locations in the city area and were taken before substantial UHI could be considered a significant factor (although there probably would have been some UHI by the late 19th century as the Swan Colony had been been building for 100 years).

    The Government Astronomer wrote about the Perth Botanical Gardens site … “I think the thermometers are too sheltered, but they will probably more truly represent the city temperature, while those of the Observatory will represent the conditions in the surrounding country.”

    Read on to page 23 for mean annual temperatures at Perth Botanic Gardens from 1876 to 1899. The average annual mean min during those years was 54.2F (12.3C) and the average mean max was 75.6F (24.2C).

    At Perth Metro (site 9225), the average min from 1994 to 2010 was 12.6C and the average max was 24.5C). So despite a city being built and the invention of the motor car, the min and max are both up .3C over more than 100 years.

    It’s interesting that to satisfy their 30 year mean, the BoM website provides Perth Gardens data beginning 1981, excluding the previous five years from 1876 which both the Cooke document and the BoM’s own data (www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/cvg/av?p_stn_num=009097&p_prim_element_index=0&p_display_type=statGraph&period_of_avg=USER_SELECTED&normals_years=1881-1910&staticPage=) show as being about .15C warmer than the following years.

    The readings, although debatable because of different locations, suggest Perth’s winters have warmed slightly and the summers haven’t changed. For what it’s worth, the full Perth Gardens readings (site 9097) from 1876 to 1930 (www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_009097.shtml) were average mean min 12.7C and average mean max 23.8C.

    At Perth Regional Office (www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_009034.shtml) (site 9034) from 1897 to 1992 (almost certainly full Stevenson Screen – read on), the average mean min was 13.3C and the average mean max was 23.3. From 1961 to 1990 (www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/cvg/av?p_stn_num=009034&p_prim_element_index=0&p_comp_element_index=0&redraw=null&p_display_type=statistics_summary&normals_years=1961-1990&tablesizebutt=normal) Perth Regional shows average annual min at 14C and max at 23.9C, up 1.1C and 1C respectively since 1901-1930.

    Perth Metro is 4km from Perth Gardens and Perth Regional Office is 2km from Perth Gardens. Perth Regional is 4km from Perth Metro.

    In the introduction to Meteorological Observations Made in Western Australia 1908 by Commonwealth Meteorologist Henry Hunt, published 1912 (www.archive.org/download/resultsofmeteoro00austrich/resultsofmeteoro00austrich.pdf – 28mb), it reads:

    Perth Observatory – This is situated, approximately, in South latitude 31deg, 57min, 07.4 seconds and East Longitude 7hr.43min.21.74sec. It stands in the middle of a reserve of about 11 acres, on the top of Mount Eliza – a hill rising from the western boundary of the city to a height of about 200 feet above sea level. A set of meteorological instruments was first mounted in a Stevenson Screen on 1st January, 1897, and observations … etc.

    Re Outstations, no date of installation is given but they have the following instruments:

    Mercurial Barometer of Adie’s station pattern.
    Dry and West Bulb Thermometers.
    Maximum and Minimum self-registering Thermometers.
    Rain Gauge, Sin.
    Wind Vane.
    Stevenson Thermometer Screen.

    The introduction states that there were 15 stations equipped with Stevenson Screens in WA, although it’s a bit difficult determining the year of installation.

    There is no reference to Stevenson Screens or any other instrumentation in The Climate and Weather of Australia by Commonwealth Meteorologist Henry Hunt, published in 1913 (www.archive.org/download/climateweatherof00huntrich/climateweatherof00huntrich.pdf – 29mb).

    However and in light of the Queensland floods, it’s worth noting that in the 1913 Hunt report on page 60, it’s recorded that on January 31, 1893, 35.71 inches of rain fell in Crohamhurst, 83km north-west of Brisbane – that’s 907mm in one day.

    On January 11, 1898, Buderim had 26.2 inches = 665mm. There’s a table of 22 rain events and #22 was Palmwoods station in Brisbane on December 25 1909 with 17.75 inches = 450mm on Christmas Day.

    Some of the weather events in this Hunt document are remarkable and if recorded today would “confirm” that AGW is happening. e.g.
    “On the 19th January, 1909, is another willy-willy not quite so intense as that of the 7th February, 1911, but occurring with almost the same general pressure distribution. Yet this one moved inland, and by the 21st January had reached the Murchison goldfields, having lost little of its intensity, and bringing very heavy rain to the Murchison and Northern Coolgardie goldfields. It then moved slowly eastward across the continent with diminished intensity, but still accompanied by rain even to the Queensland coast.”

    “The cold weather of 9th and 10th October, 1910, was phenomenal. It began almost simultaneously in South Australia and Victoria on the 9th, when heavy snowfalls during the afternoon were almost general from Spencer Gulf to Gabo Island…. the minimum at Adelaide fell to 36.8 (2.7C) on the night of the 9th, about the lowest on record there for October”

    “The maximum temperatures in Melbourne for the five days 30th January-3rd February, 1912, were 96.4 (35.8C), 102.6 (39.2C), 106.5 (41.4C), 105.9 (41.1C), and 102.5 (39.2C) respectively. Much the same operating factors appear to have been at work during the still more severe and, in Melbourne, record spell of heat from 15th to 20th January, 1908, the successive maxima and the Weather Bureau being 102 (38.9C), 106.7 (41.5C), 109.3 (42.9C), 104.1 (40.1C), 105.7 (40.9C), and 107.5 (41.9C).” (compare … www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/27/2474762.htm)

    Think we’ve seen global warming dust storms in recent years? Try 12th November, 1902, over Melbourne and Victoria … “The dust was at times suffocatingly dense, and the upper air was so loaded with it that the sun was rarely visible … At Boort and in some parts of the Riverina the storm was accompanied by a sort of globular lightning, “fireballs” were seen falling on the fields and roads, and scattering the earth … “

    Given a choice between global warming and rainy days exceeding 900mm with heavy snow in South Australia and fireballs dropping out of the sky, I’m starting to hope that global warming is real.