On the way home from the trip which took me to the Dalrymple Track and elsewhere I stopped off at Jourama Falls. I didn’t walk up to the falls themselves because I saw from the creek – still flowing, but only just over the camping ground causeways – that the effort would not be well rewarded.
This photo, however, confirms just how dry the country is now.
Townsville is the same, but we know Townsville is in the Dry Tropics; Jourama is not far from Townsville, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that it’s dry; but both are drier than usual, and Cardwell, definitely in the Wet Tropics, was nearly as bad.
Winter is traditionally followed by Spring but not here, and not in the era of climate change. Last week was Winter; this week is the Fire Season.
Perhaps that is a little melodramatic, but it’s justified by the conditions we have experienced recently. The fire season is already well under way, as it usually is by this time of year, and we have had several very smoky days in town but today was exceptional. Late this morning I could hardly see Mount Stuart from the Rising Sun intersection on Charters Towers Rd, so I visited Castle Hill with my camera to see what I could see from there. It wasn’t pretty.
A look at recent weather observations on the Bureau of Meteorology’s website has corrected my gut feeling that Townsville had another very dry winter. The total for June-July-August was 30 mm so, paltry though it might seem, it was significantly more than the 18 mm median (see averages here). Here is what we’ve had, according to the BoM.
The main reason I was wrong was that less than 1 mm of the total has fallen since the middle of July. Six weeks of clear skies, increasingly hot days (topping out recently in the low 30s) and no rain has left the city looking desiccated, even though people are still rebuilding their homes and lives after the February floods.
What can we look forward to, then? September is typically our driest month, and October isn’t much better, so no immediate relief is in sight. We might get some useful rain in November but we might also have to wait until Christmas.
This post extends my April post, Townsville’s 2019 floods, by mentioning some consequences, both temporary and ongoing, of the flood damage.
Old people flooded out of their homes may not return but find retirement accommodation, a move they may have been resisting for years.
All sorts of people will be replacing furniture they were already planning to replace because it was looking shabby.
Both of the main performing arts spaces, Civic Theatre and Riverway, were flood damaged and had to be closed for repairs, forcing the cancellation of events scheduled well into the middle of the year. Civic Theatre, I know, is re-opening for the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in July – but then re-closing to finish repairs.
Sports grounds were also flood damaged, forcing the cancellation of events up to national-festival level.
The Alice River bridge on Hervey’s Range Road was severely damaged and needs to be rebuilt. Rumour (which is all I have) has it that the road won’t re-open until late this year. Until it does, Hervey’s Range residents can only get into town via Black River Road and the Highway, an extra 10 Km each way.
The Townsville flood of January-February 2019 was, like cyclones Althea and Yasi, one of the extreme weather events which define people’s lives in the city. Two months later, “How did you go in the floods?” is still the first question we ask friends we haven’t seen for a while. There’s a lot for Green Path to say about it but whatever we publish now will be incomplete so we will update and extend it as appropriate, in separate posts if justified by the amount of extra material.
Let’s begin with an overview of theweather event and its immediate consequences.
The weather event
A low in the monsoon trough over the Gulf became a rain depression and drifted South and East until it settled over Townsville, where it stayed much longer than “normal” (we will have to return to that concept later) and dumped an inordinate amount of rain on us over about ten days – say 29-30 Jan to 7-8 Feb. Continue reading “Townsville’s 2019 floods”