Weather News

East Coast Low drenches NSW

Rob Sharpe, Tuesday June 7, 2016 - 16:16 EST

Across autumn, rainfall was well below average east of the ranges and across the New England and North West. In the past week these areas and others have seen remarkable rainfall, more than making up for the drier spell.

The five-day rain event for eastern Australia began last Thursday, with a pair of surface low pressure troughs being fed by warm and moist easterly winds; one over inland NSW and QLD and one on the NSW coast. This fairly common scenario was made much more extreme with the approach of very cold air in the upper atmosphere, known as an upper level trough or disturbance. The very cold upper level air meant that the warm moist air near the surface was forced up into the atmosphere, providing literally tonnes of water for the surface troughs and then the East Coast Low.

Widespread soaking rain fell across NSW east from a line from about Bourke to Hillston to Deniliquin, with lighter scattered falls further west. On the western slopes and plains rainfall totals were generally between 30-80mm. However on the eastern side of the ranges totals were typically between 100-300mm, but on the coastal fringe most places saw 200-400mm.

This event is exceptional in its breadth of impact, with coastal areas as far north as the QLD Gold Coast and as far south as northern Tasmania experiencing significant flooding and beach erosion and damaging winds and surf. Most East Coast Lows focus their energy on a much smaller stretch of coast.

In terms of rainfall, there were some very notable extremes. Bega received more than five times its monthly average, with just shy of 300mm. Similarly Camden and Batemans Bay saw about 300mm and more than four times their June average.

Further inland Lightning Ridge was the most exceptional, collecting 136mm, almost four times its monthly average.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2016

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