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29 Nov 2023, 11:45PM UTC

A November to remember for Canberra

The national capital is up to 134.2 mm of rainfall for November 2023, and indeed that will now be the official monthly total, as any rain that falls this Thursday will fall in the 24-hour total to 9 am Friday December 1, which means it counts as December rainfall. In a city that prides itself on its parks and gardens, and where residents can gauge the state of the countryside merely by driving between suburbs, few locals will need reminding that this month's rain was very welcome indeed. November 2023 in Canberra was: The first calendar month of 2023 with 100 mm or more of rainfall The first month with 100 mm or more since November 2022, when 100.2 mm fell Close to double the monthly average of 74.1mm November is actually Canberra's wettest month on average, and recent years have well and truly lived up to that. Image: Lake George looking moody this week from Weerewa lookout as yet another storm approaches. Source: Tim the Yowie Man. Over 100 mm fell in 2023, 2022, and 2021, while 2020 came close to triple figures with 93 mm. (The 2021 total of 152.6 mm was the city's November record.) Where the current very wet November differs from recent soggy Novembers is that Canberra had been extremely dry in the months leading up to November 2023. As you can see on the graph below, winter was dry in the capital. For the record, it was also an exceptionally warm winter. Canberra is now up to 607.4 mm of rainfall for the year to date, which means 2023 should come close to the city’s annual average of 640.4 mm. A city of microclimates It's worth noting that Canberra's official weather stats are taken at the weather station at the airport. Because Canberra is a large, spread-out city with a range of different topography, totals can vary greatly between suburbs. Sometimes, drizzle and showers will drift in from the coast (which is about 100 km away as the crow flies even if it's nearly 170 km by road) and leave the western suburbs dry. In winter, cold weather from the west will flick the southern and western suburbs with rain or even snow showers while the north and east of the city hardly see a drop. Weatherzone spoke on Wednesday to Canberra resident "Liz", who shared an image of her personal weather station at her home in Belconnen, in northwest Canberra. Image: Siri, what does "soggy" look like in statistical terms? Source: Canberra resident "Liz". It's unclear exactly what the word "today" means in the top right corner alongside the reading of almost 94 mm of rain, so we can't draw a hard scientific conclusion from the above. But we can say that Canberra Airport in the city's east received 44.8 mm in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning and 24 mm to Thursday morning. So Liz's home weather station is indicative of the fact that Canberra's northwestern suburbs did better from this event than Canberra’s official weather station at the airport. The bottom line is that the whole ACT was just one of many forecast districts across southern and eastern Australia that got a thoroughly good soaking this week.

29 Nov 2023, 11:39PM UTC

Australia's summer bushfire outlook

Large areas of the country are at an increased risk of bushfires this summer, with several dry-phase climate drivers impacting the outlook. The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) has today released Australia’s official Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for summer. The outlook brings together advice and information from AFAC, the Bureau of Meteorology and Australia’s state and territory fire authorities. According to the outlook, there is an increased risk of fires in large areas of Qld and NSW, and parts of the NT, VIC, SA, WA and Tas. This outlook is being influenced by several factors: Three consecutive La Nina years brought wet conditions that caused prolific vegetation growth in some areas of the country. This vegetation is now drying out and becoming very flammable on the back of a record-breaking dry start to spring, combined with unusually warm temperatures. A confluence of dry phase climate drivers, including El Niño, a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and the potential for negative Southern Annular Mode (SAM) phases early in 2024. These climate drivers will make abnormally hot and dry conditions more likely in some regions of Australia this summer. Some of the vegetation affected by the 2019/20 black summer fires has also regrown and is now able to carry fast moving fires. The ACT is the only state or territory that has a normal fire risk this summer, with the territory expecting near-average rainfall this summer. Parts of eastern Australia were fortunate to see increased rainfall and thunderstorm activity in November, which has helped replenish root zone soil moisture in parts of Qld, NSW and Vic. While this recent bout of wet weather will help mitigate fires at the start of summer, most of NSW and Qld are forecast to see an increased risk of fire in the mid to late summer due to above average temperatures and ongoing drying of vegetation. AFAC CEO Rob Webb says that “an increased risk of bushfire makes it even more important for you to take action. Wherever you live, work or visit this summer, know where to find bushfire information, prepare your property, and talk to your family and friends about what you will do in an emergency. Your local fire agency is the perfect place to find out exactly how to stay safe this summer.” You can find the full Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for summer 2023-24 on the AFAC website.


29 Nov 2023, 5:28AM UTC

1,500 km severe storm band crossing eastern Australia

A broad arc of dangerous thunderstorms is moving over eastern Australia this afternoon, prompting severe storm warnings from central Qld to southern NSW. The animation below shows the massive band of storms, which has formed ahead of an approaching upper-level trough associated with an upper-level low centred over southern NSW. At one stage on Wednesday afternoon, a bow echo formed as a line of intense storms tracked from the Southern Tableland towards the South Coast in NSW. This radar feature highlights the presence of powerful winds that are contorting the shape of storm’s precipitation band, which is a signature of a mature severe thunderstorm. Video: Radar animation showing bow echo to the west of Ulladulla on Wednesday afternoon. As of 4pm AEDT on Wednesday, the following storm warnings were in place: Severe thunderstorm warning for heavy rain, damaging winds and large hail in the Mid North Coast, Hunter, Illawarra, Southern Tablelands, Northern Tablelands and parts of Northern Rivers, Metropolitan, South Coast, Central Tablelands, North West Slopes and Plains, South West Slopes and Snowy Mountains Forecast Districts of NSW Detailed severe thunderstorm warning for damaging winds, large hail and heavy rain in the Greater Wollongong and parts of Maitland/Cessnock, Gosford/Wyong, Wollondilly/Wingecarribee, Greater Newcastle and Sydney areas of NSW Severe thunderstorm warning for people in parts of the Central Highlands and Coalfields, Capricornia, Wide Bay and Burnett, Darling Downs and Granite Belt and Southeast Coast Forecast Districts in Qld Further south, heavy rain and powerful winds continue to plague southeastern NSW and eastern Vic on Tuesday afternoon. At 4pm AEDT, severe weather warnings were in place for heavy rain and damaging winds in the South Coast and parts of Snowy Mountains Forecast Districts in NSW, and parts of East Gippsland, West and South Gippsland, Central, South West and North East Forecast Districts in Vic. The map below shows the areas covered by these warnings on Wednesday afternoon. Image: Severe weather and severe thunderstorm warnings areas at 4pm AEDT on Wednesday, November 29, 2023. Weatherzone's Total Lightning Network detected more than 500,000 lightning strikes over NSW by 4:15pm on Wenesday. Warnings will continue to be updated throughout the afternoon and evening as these storms continue to develop, so be sure to check the latest warnings for the most up-to-date information in your area.


Weather in Business


22 Nov 2023, 12:22AM UTC

Is Australia a great place for offshore wind farms?

Australia has some of the best offshore wind resources in the world, which are set to be captured by facilities scattered across our vast coastline in several years time. The offshore wind industry is booming internationally, as countries around the globe use it as part of their renewable energy transition. Wind farms are typically placed in windy locations, such as hilltops, but now Australia is looking offshore. According to the Global Wind Energy Council, Australia has the potential to generate 5,000 gigawatts of electricity from offshore wind, which is 100 times the installed capacity of Australia's two largest electricity networks. However, it's likely to be several years before an offshore wind farm becomes operational in Australia. The map below shows that the offshore wind resources in Australia are mostly around southern Australia near cities and industrial hubs and mining. Image: The mean wind speed along our coastline in m/s and the offshore wind resources in Australia, October 2021, Source: NOPSEMA Why go offshore? There are several reasons why offshore wind farms are beneficial sources of energy in Australia, such as strong winds over the ocean, reduction in costs and the size of turbines and farms over water. Strong winds over the ocean Wind speeds across the ocean are consistently stronger than those over land, meaning more wind power can be produced by these offshore facilities. The strongest winds in Australia are typically around coastal regions including western Tas and Vic, the Eyre Peninsula in SA, the southwestern coastline of WA, and the Great Australian Bight. The winds are strongest in these regions due to the passage of cold fronts or low pressure systems and the Roaring Forties. The Roaring Forties are gale force westerly winds that typically blow between the latitudes of 40° and 50° south shown in the image below. These winds gain their power from the planetary–scale circulation as the atmosphere moves hot air from the equator to the poles. Since the planet rotates, these winds are deflected to blow from west to east by the Coriolis Effect. Unlike in the Northern Hemisphere, these winds encounter very little land to slow them down in the Southern Hemisphere, allowing them to blow consistently strongly. Once used regularly by sailors, the power of the roaring forties will be harnessed by offshore wind turbines. Size of turbines and farms While building offshore wind farms is challenging and costly, the size of the wind turbines and farms at sea can be much larger than over land. The size of wind farms and individual turbines over land are restricted in size due to transport and other constraints like land use. The larger the wind turbine, the greater the amount of electricity that can be produced. Cost and technology The technology of offshore wind farms has improved over recent decades which has helped drive the cost of installing the wind farms down. The reduced costs and increased energy output make offshore wind farms a great renewable source of energy. How can Weatherzone help the offshore wind industry? Weatherzone Business offers a comprehensive suite of services, refined through years of collaboration with the marine, ports and offshore industries, to optimise the safety and efficiency of your operations. Click here to learn more.


16 Oct 2023, 1:47AM UTC

Southerly buster and large swell hitting NSW

A strong southerly change will move up the NSW coast on Monday, whipping up a large southerly swell in its wake.  The fierce winds are associated with a low-pressure system sitting in the Tasman Sea which is extending a cold front along the NSW coast.   The southerly buster has already hit far eastern VIC and the NSW coast with Gabo Island recording a 107km/h wind gust and a mean wind speed of 70km/h on Monday morning.  READ MORE: What is a southerly buster?  Ahead of the change, gusty westerly winds are expected to impact parts of the state, with mean wind speeds reaching 20 knots and gusting up to 30 knots at Port Botany and Sydney Airport.  The gusty southwesterly is expected to reach Sydney and Port Botany at around 4pm AEDT on Monday afternoon, October 16.  The map below shows the gusty southerly change near the Hunter region later Monday afternoon.  Image: ECMWF forecast wind gusts at 5pm on Monday, October 16.  A large southerly swell will also move up the NSW coastline on Monday afternoon and evening.   The map below shows significant wave heights could reach five metres offshore the NSW central coast early on Tuesday morning.  Image: Wave Watch III significant wave heigh at 5am Tuesday, October 16.   The remainder of the NSW seaboard could see swells reaching 3-4 metres from late Monday into Tuesday, as the hefty swell moves up the coastline.  The beaches along the NSW coast that face the south could see some erosion with this swell.  The strong southerly winds and large swell will continue to impact the NSW coast until Wednesday morning when the low moves further away from Australia.  Weatherzone Business offers a comprehensive suite of services, refined through years of collaboration with the marine, ports, insurance and offshore industries, to optimise the safety and efficiency of your operations.    We work with you to understand your intrinsic operational challenges and customise high-precision forecasting, met-ocean, insurance and aviation services to your exact location and operational scope. For more information, please contact us at