A senior meteorologist claims there is an increased risk of flooding next year, similar to this in March 2001.
A senior meteorologist claims there is an increased risk of flooding next year, similar to this in March 2001.

Floods for January?

By JURIS GRANEY

THE good news is the drought that has strangled our local farmers for nearly a decade may be coming to an end -- a very abrupt end.

The bad news is that we can expect more thunderstorms as was experienced in Maclean this time last week as well as possible flooding in the New Year.

The claim comes from a leading meteorological academic who says last week's freak event will become less 'freakish' as time goes by.

University of Wollongong associate professor Ted Bryant, a leading academic in weather extremes said the storm that hit Maclean was called a downburst or compression.

"Last week was basically like the peak of summer conditions and was very unusual," Prof Bryant said.

"This basically says to me that it is one of the first signs that the drought is over.

"The worst thing is, however, that because the drought is coming to an end, real summer conditions will bring with it up to 200mm of rain, flood rain.

"This will happen over a wide area and not just in your region."

Prof Bryant said the current trend of at least one thunderstorm per week if not two, was because of the 'feedback' affect.

"Basically what happens with feedback is that you get a lot of rain and then of a day time it evaporates putting the moisture back in the air and triggering another thunder storm."

Bureau of Meteorologist spokesman Cameron Henderson said although they could not confidently predict more vicious thunderstorms outside their normal four to seven day forecast, something was definitely in the air.

"A few of the older guys here at the bureau are walking around saying that it looks like we are returning to the 'good old days' (of regular thunderstorms)," he said.

"But realistically we can't predict with any confidence weather more than seven days in advance."

Mr Henderson said the storm that hit Maclean was a 'fairly common' event.

"Summer is the storm season after all," he said.

"Even though it was a freak, we do see a lot of these types of storms.

"You just have to feel unlucky that it hit your town town or any area that is populated."

Mr Henderson said the convergence of two wind troughs, contributed to the ferocity of the storm that destroyed many properties in Maclean and its surrounds.



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