The Long Reach of Yasi Part 2: BoM “We’ve never seen anything like this in Australia”; more towns evacuated as residents forced to flee

Hard to believe, but such was the force of Cyclone Yasi that is playing havoc with Victoria’s weather. The Bureau of Meteorology calls it “unprecedented“:

Across the state, about 4500 homes were still without power last night. Mr Baillieu urged those in need of help to wait patiently. ”This is a difficult rain event. It’s been widespread across Victoria and the SES are doing the best they can to support those with requests for assistance,” he said.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Terry Ryan said the ”unprecedented” movement of cyclone Yasi inland to the Northern Territory, combined with a longer cloud band caused by ex-cyclone Anthony, had produced a humid and unstable air mass over Victoria. ”We’ve never seen anything like it in Australia,” he said.

The impact of the storms have been quite severe:

State Emergency Service crews were stretched to the limit with almost 6000 calls for help, including 4100 in Melbourne, by yesterday afternoon.

A 26-year-old British tourist remained in a critical condition with serious head injuries, after a gum tree fell on her tent at the Crystal Brook Tourist Park in Doncaster East, just after midnight yesterday. Almost 100 people were rescued across the state, including 60 people from vehicles trapped in flash flooding. Three teenage boys were forced to cling to a telegraph pole in a swollen creek while waiting for rescuers at Pakenham.

The Alfred hospital was forced to relocate patients and close several operating theatres because of flooding. More than 40 elderly residents had to be evacuated from nursing homes at Mentone, Narre Warren and Werribee.

Flash flooding in Melbourne’s west and south-east closed the Monash Freeway and Princes Highway, causing traffic jams up to 10 kilometres long. Several train lines were closed.

The cause:

VICTORIA has been lashed by the tail of cyclone Yasi, producing severe storms and torrential rain.

The moist air from Yasi, downgraded from a cyclone to a tropical low after its winds eased below gale force, was dragged south in an arc from Queensland’s north-west, through Alice Springs and as far south as Melbourne.

A large cold front heading north cooled the warm monsoonal air and caused huge cloudbursts that dumped up to 200 millimetres of rain in just two hours over Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Moisture remaining from cyclone Anthony was also hanging over the state and contributed to the deluge.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Stephen King said the weather was unusual for Melbourne.

My video captured some of it’s force, my own local area was hit hard.

Carlisle Street, my local area turned “into a river” according to shop owners I talked to yesterday.

Owners of the Balaclava Fresh Centre, people I’ve been shopping with for over ten years, spent a sleepless night protecting their stock from flood waters. Both the local Coles and Safeway were forced to close due to rain damage to their buildings.

The places I grew up…

I’m a “Dandy Boy”, I spent most of my first 25 years of my life in Dandenong.

And now the suburb I grew up in has experienced flooding:

Source: Herald Sun

According to the BoM:

The Dandenong Creek catchment has received rainfall averaging about 147mm since 09:00am yesterday.

The water level of the Dandenong Creek at Rowville (Police Road retarding basin) has exceeded the Moderate flood level of 5m. Given no further rainfall, water level at the basin is likely to peak close to the major flood level of 5.5m this evening.

Roads and low lying areas adjacent to the waterway are still affected by flooding. Please check VicRoads website for roads affected by flooding.

Dandenong Creek is a tiny string of water that trickles it way through the area. Calling it a “creek” was local “in joke”, given it was on the most unattractive and degraded water ways I’ve seen. The “Mighty Dandenong” could barely live up to it’s name as a creek.

And now it has roared to life, flooding the area.

More towns evacuated

If it wasn’t bad enough, more towns are being evacuated across the state. The Herald Sun reports:

THOUSANDS of people were given two hours to get out of their homes as fast-rising floodwaters last night threatened to engulf four country towns.

The State Emergency Service said it had told more than 6000 residents of Koo-wee-rup, Iona, Bayles and Cora Lynn in Gippsland to grab their pets, medicine, photographs and three days’ clothes and flee to emergency centres in Cranbourne and Pakenham.

The warning came as the Lower Bunyip River swelled dangerously upriver, and was tipped to peak at more than 7.2m in the early hours of today.

A ferocious dump of rain caused by Queensland’s tropical cyclones Yasi and Anthony swept across Victoria, flooding dozens of homes from Melbourne to Mildura, closing hundreds of roads, inundating schools and churches and leaving a damage bill approaching an estimated $100 million.

I’ve lived in Melbourne all my life, and I’ve seen fire and rain.

I remember Ash Wednesday, Black Saturday and the floods, droughts and extreme weather events. We’ve always had them – Australians understand just how harsh our climate can be.

But this?

This is different.

Everywhere I go people are talking:

“Is this climate change?”

These floods aren’t abstract to me.

The places I grew up, visited and now live in are witnessing unprecedented rains and flooding.

Further resources

Images sourced: The Age; Herald Sun

3 thoughts on “The Long Reach of Yasi Part 2: BoM “We’ve never seen anything like this in Australia”; more towns evacuated as residents forced to flee

  1. fredorth says:

    Great update. Brings a strong sense of humanity into the thinking process.

  2. Twiggy says:

    Also from http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/02/06/3131055.htm:

    Sydney-siders have sweated through their hottest February night on record.
    Temperatures overnight did not fall lower than 27.6 degrees with the mercury hitting more than 33 degrees at midnight.
    The Bureau of Meteorology says the city has gone through its longest spell of 30-degree days in more than 100 years of records.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      I was in Sydney last week, and had to buy a fresh set of clothes at the airport because it was so hot!

      Humid, hot and muggy. Very unpleasant.

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