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Broome smashes annual rainfall record in less than two months as Cyclone Kelvin caps big wet

By Rebecca Dollery and Erin Parke, Tuesday February 20, 2018 - 16:46 EDT
ABC licensed image
The streets of Broome have been left under water on more than one occasion in 2018. - ABC licensed

Broome has officially endured its wettest year on record after more than two years' worth of rain fell on the Kimberley in the past two months.

, from and then have brought the rainfall total for the year so far to 1,502 millimetres, or 1.5 metres.

That surpasses the previous record of 1,496mm set in 2000.

Updated January figures following quality control now show Broome had 945.5mm for the month, with an additional 557.2mm for February so far.

The updated January figures mean Broome has beaten its January record of 910.8mm — set in 1997 — by 34.6mm.

Neil Bennett from the Bureau of Meteorology said Broome had also beaten its February record by 61.6mm.

"The rainfall associated with Tropical Cyclone Kelvin was pretty much off the scale in terms of looking at records for February," Mr Bennett said.

"It also produced the wettest day in February with over 370mm in a 24-hour period.

"There were some gusty winds about, with some gusts approaching 100 kilometres an hour at times, but it really has been the rainfall that's had the most impact in the Broome area."

Comparing the first two months of the year shows just how wet the start of 2018 has been for Broome. Before this year, the highest total to the end of February was 1,075mm, but the 2018 total of 1,502mm has blown that figure out of the water.

Broome streets flooded, locals take to paddling

The deluge sparked incredible scenes on the streets of Broome on Friday and over the weekend, with flooding swamping cars, and roads being turned into makeshift waterparks by locals.

Kimberley residents stranded, supplies low

The Great Northern Highway remains closed to the south and east of Broome, isolating the town indefinitely.

It is the second time this month flooding has turned parts of the region's main highway into an inland sea, having also been flooded at the start of February.

Authorities have scrambled to action to evacuate stranded Kimberley residents and air-drop supplies to communities cut off by flooding.

Aeroplanes and helicopters have been chartered to ferry clean-up crews to Anna Plains Station and the Bidyadanga community.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has also delivered fresh food to two sites where supplies were running low.

Eco Beach Resort manager Ross Pagett was air-lifted from the tourism retreat, on the coast south of Broome, on Monday.

"We got 600 to 700mm of water, so it went about 2 metres deep with water on the driveway, and the power station area is underwater, so unfortunately we had to get me out of there until the water's gone down," Mr Pagett said.

"But we'll be open again soon, bigger and better."

He said the view from the helicopter was spectacular, with the landscape resembling an inland sea.

"It was a good ride, nice and steady, and it was good to see the rest of the area all engulfed … Roebuck Plains is about 700mm underwater at the moment, so it's going to be interesting to see how long that will take to recede," Mr Pagett said.

"It's just a very wet wet season. We'll all have to see what the rest of the season brings, hopefully there's not too much more rain."

Local supermarkets have arranged for barges to be loaded with fresh supplied at Dampier in the Pilbara, and they are due to be unloaded at Broome Port by mid-week.

The 3,000 residents of Derby have also had supplies disrupted by the road closure, and it is expected food deliveries will be rerouted from Darwin.

Cyclone season isn't over yet

as it tracks to the south, producing heavy rain.

And with the cyclone season not over until the end of April, Mr Bennett said the region could get a lot more rain.

"The remarkable thing about this season so far is we are still only in February and we've already seen rainfall records for the year being broken," he said.

"And we do anticipate seeing more cyclone activity."

Broome's rainfall totals may sound remarkable to West Australians, but they might be scoffed at by the residents of Tully in Queensland, which holds the record for the highest ever annual rainfall in a populated area of Australia — recording 7,900mm or 310 inches in 1950.

In 2003, the town erected an eight-metre 'Golden Gumboot' as a monument to its climate.

And Tully has nothing on Mawsynram.

Located in the Meghalaya State in India, Mawsynram is the wettest place in the world, with an annual rainfall of 11,871mm.


© ABC 2018

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