Victorian floods; highest rainfall recorded in 40 stations; towns evacuated; 17,000 without power

Source: The Age

Distressingly, this is becoming a regular occurence across Australia. This time Victoria has been hit with flooding following record rainfall overnight:

Flooding on the Wimmera and Loddon rivers has exceeded Victoria’s devastating September floods after a night of torrential rain, the State Emergency Service says.

The worst flash floods in decades are expected in the Western part of the state, with over 100m anticipated:

More than 40 of the state’s weather stations have recorded their highest-ever rainfall levels.

The towns of Kyneton, Maryborough and Inglewood have all recorded their highest-ever monthly rainfall record.

Residents from Halls Gap, a town I’ve been to many times,  have been evacuated:

About 100 people reportedly left Halls Gap this morning and moved to shelter in Stawell after up to 130mm of rain in the Grampians. Fears of flash flooding at Great Western, near Stawell, prompted locals to evacuate to the Seppelt Winery.

The State Emergency Service evacuated about 70 people from 30 homes in Beaufort, west of Ballarat, about 5am today amid fears a reservoir had breached its banks.

Video footage of the flooding from YouTube:

With the floods, blackouts:

About 17,000 homes are without power across the state’s west and central regions, including 2500 in Gisborne, 2100 in Ballarat and Ballan, more than 1700 in Macedon and Wood End and 1000 in Maldon.

The floods are expected to be worse than those experienced in September:

EMERGENCY crews are on standby to combat flooding expected to be worse than the devastating September floods in regional Victoria, as mudslides and flash floods hit parts of the state last night.

The SES and police warned people in the popular Grampians holiday centre of Halls Gap to evacuate, fearing the last bridge out of the town would be cut off overnight. One bridge was already under water, while mud and rocks were blocking the other road out of the town.

It is going to be a long summer.

I fear this is not the end of it.

I’ve heard reports of flooding in South Australia, anyone got an update? (Tim?)

20 thoughts on “Victorian floods; highest rainfall recorded in 40 stations; towns evacuated; 17,000 without power

  1. fredorth says:

    Let us just hope that thing change in your favor and do so VERY soon.

  2. I travelled up to the Riverland on Wednesday and the Murray seemed in fine shape – nice and full, but no longer banking it’s banks as it has been in Dec 2010.

    My Mallee forest is still water logged and received around 70mm of rain yesterday (which obviously can’t go anywhere) and 3 days of this week saw widespread fog (2 of which persisted in the hills and surrounding pastoral land much of the day).

    So SA is wetter than it has been for year, but no major problems.

    It’s horrible to think that is was just over a year ago Vic saw those horrible bushfires that completely destroyed a number of communities.

    I suspect, with an atmosphere increasingly able to hold more water, we can only expect bigger wets and and hotter dries.

  3. Adam says:

    I guess Andrew Bolt believes that we simply accept these events instead of working to reduce them?

    I would imagine people would get sick of massive flooding occuring every 5 years instead of 100.

    The costs towards climate change reduction would surely be cheaper than the costs of repair of this ONE single Queensland event.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      The estimates I’ve heard range form $10bn-$16bn, the cost expected to shave off >1% of national GDP.

      Let’s not forget “intangible” costs – the shattered lives and communities, the loss of loved ones, homes destroyed, businesses wiped out…

    • If you mean Qld’s contribution to mitigation costs compared to facing this season’s flooding, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re right. Changes to human activity (most importantly, re-localisation), infrastructure upgrades and power supply would go a long way to reducing their CO2 emissions.

      Waterfront will probably lose it’s prestigious price tag and the house prices in the foot hills and higher will probably attract more interest.

      • Watching the Deniers says:

        One of the major “adaptation” strategies is to retreat from areas prone to flooding/fire.

        A great deal of infrastructure/housing/community assets will simply be abandoned in those areas where people can’t get insurance. Or the frequency of these events drive people/business away.

        The Victorian Bushfire commission recommended such strategy, stating some areas of the state where no longer habitable:

        “..Eighteen months on, the wisdom of rebuilding all of Victoria’s lost townships brick by brick has been debunked in the final report of the 2009 Victorian Bush-fires Royal Commission. Not only do the three royal commissioners – Bernard Teague, Ron McLeod and Susan Pascoe – question the rebuilding of certain towns and streets, they advocate the slow disappearance of communities in areas of highest bushfire risk. “It should be recognised that some places are too dangerous for people to live . . . and development should be strongly discouraged in these areas,” they say.”

  4. The one thing about retreating from areas prone to flood is that in many cases they become increasingly prone to fire – higher land is generally safer from flooding (not always), but for those reasons they’re generally drier and also being higher, fire moves fast towards higher environments.

    Where’s the sweet spot?

    Clearly, it’s learning to deal with one or the other or living far away from everything!

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      “Where’s the sweet spot?”

      The cities… at least those that can be made to adapt. As Gleeson notes in “Lifeboat cities” it’s where we will concentrate our resources and adaptation efforts.

  5. Sou says:

    I spoke with my mother today and she said that in her 90 years of life, she’s never experienced a summer like this one. She’s lived in Gippsland and Melbourne and, for most of her life, in north-eastern Victoria.

    I haven’t lived quite as long, but my recollection is the same.

    I know memory is not reliable but fallible memories are confirmed by the fact that the rainfall records for Victoria this summer are being broken. Going by the Bureau of Meteorology records, close to where I live we had more than double the December average in about 12 hours on one day in December. This broke the record for a day’s rainfall in any month since records began.

    Longer, hotter droughts (with more frequent large fires) and more intense rainfall when it happens – precisely the symptoms of climate change from AGW.

    • Nick says:

      F**k Brendan O’Neill,he is a complete fool. He has his facts WRONG.

      He claims that “In recent weeks,the Wivenhoe Dam was running at 150% to 180% capacity,which means that Brisbane water authorities had to start releasing water from the dam at the same time as the rain-caused flash floods were hitting Brisbane’s river system-effectively contributing to the deluge.”

      This is UTTERLY wrong. Wivenhoe was NEVER at 150-180% in recent weeks. It was kept at around 100%,with two December flood spikes pushing it first to about 112%,then to 123% Between each spike ,it was lowered,by increasing releases,back to around 100%,in accordance with operating policy designed with the policy of extreme flooding in mind

      So Wivenhoe went into the super heavy rain event with its flood reserve almost completely intact. They had 1400GL air space. The fact that this was almost not enough was not to be known until the nature and distribution of extreme hourly rainfall totals in its catchment became apparent. Brendan O’Neill is spreading unchecked gossip. Yet another example of the crappy journalistic standards that bugger up our public discussions.

      This flood event was at the very upper end of what hydrology and climatology had anticipated.

      The rest of O’Neill’s thrust is rubbish ,too. It depends entirely on the lie that public policy is being pushed by AGW advocates,and that that policy expects extreme rain events to diminish in number,or indeed vanish simply because there is a decadal drying trend in mean rainfall.

      It is a lie also contradicted by the widespread recent engineering work carried out on many dams in Australia to INCREASE flood resilience and peak flow passing.

      IOW,precisely the kind of policy and work that O’Neill suggests is not occurring. What a fool….

      • The Telegraph, like most (if not all) media outlets obviously wishes to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I felt like making a comment, but the comments were so like those on Bolt’s blog that I couldn’t stomach it.

        Such writing really needs to be held accountable for the lies they propagate – they really do an injustice to free speech and social potential.

        O’Neill is worse than a fool…

      • Nick says:

        O’Neill couldn’t be arsed to use easily available online resources to fact-check his work. He has now undoubtedly set off a whole lot of innocent people with this error.

        He must retract the article,and publish a correction.

    • Sou says:

      If you go to the SEQWater website it shows that what Nick said is true. Scroll down to the historical levels and expand the recent weeks. The flood mitigation portion of the dam was virtually empty on Friday 7 January.

      Bear in mind that a lot of the water flowing to the Brisbane River last week came from massively flooded areas feeding into the river below the Wivenhoe Dam outlets. It was a fine balancing act to prevent water backing up in lower inflows, prevent the dam itself from reaching dangerous levels and keep the floods well below what they would have been if not for the dams.

      Check out the BOM website to see just how much rain SE Queensland got in the past week and prior weeks – click on the earlier and later buttons to see the effect on SE Queensland.

  6. Sou says:

    There are 388 road closures listed on the VicRoads flood alert website, plus a number of shires with ‘widespread road closures’ – too many to list.

    I’ve commented on my blog that similar to what has been suggested, we need to add in all the costs associated with extreme climate change events when working out what our fossil fuel addiction is costing us.

    A summary of road closures in Victoria as at today, as listed on the VicRoads flood alert site, can be found here:

  7. […] Victorian floods; highest rainfall recorded in 40 stations; towns evacuated; 17,000 without power […]

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