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Inland seas forming in the Australian outback after torrential rains with wet summer on the way

Stunning images show inland seas forming in the Australian outback due to torrential rains, as forecasters warn a very wet summer is on the way.

Torrential rain swept across central and western Queensland over the weekend with more than 100mm falling in some areas.

Grazier Andrea Curro had 80mm fall at her property near Longreach since Friday, with aerial photos showing flooded areas throughout.

After having no rain since January, Ms Curro said it is the most rainfall they saw in over a year.








Stunning images show inland seas forming in the Australian outback due to torrential rains, as forecasters warn a very wet summer is on the way

Stunning images show inland seas forming in the Australian outback due to torrential rains, as forecasters warn a very wet summer is on the way

‘It went from literally being a barren wasteland to 3.5 inches of rain,’ she told The Courier Mail.

‘For a couple of days it just looks like an ocean.’

Ms Curro said it was a huge relief after living through months of drought, with the rainfall setting her up for summer. 

Longreach resident Jenna Goodman said the rain had been ‘quite heavy at times’ over the weekend.

‘I think outside of town got more than we did in town which is nice. Not a flood by any means, but hopefully we get some good follow up rain,’ she said.

The rainfall comes as the Bureau of Meteorology issued an alert saying there is a 70 per cent chance of La Nina developing this year, bringing cooler temperatures and above average rainfall.

Increased rainfall and cloudiness means above average spring rainfall for the east and north, raising the risk of flooding in some parts with wetter soils bringing milder daytime temperatures.

‘We can also see an earlier start to the tropical cyclone season,’ a BOM spokeswoman said. 

Torrential rain swept across central and western Queensland over the weekend with more than 100mm falling in some areas

Torrential rain swept across central and western Queensland over the weekend with more than 100mm falling in some areas

The rainfall comes as the Bureau of Meteorology issued an alert saying there is a 70 per cent chance of La Nina developing this year

The rainfall comes as the Bureau of Meteorology issued an alert saying there is a 70 per cent chance of La Nina developing this year

The six wettest winter-spring periods on record for eastern Australia occurred during La Nina years.

In the Murray-Darling Basin, winter/spring rainfall averaged over all 18 La Nina events since 1900 was 22 per cent higher than the long-term average, with the severe floods of 1955, 1988, 1998 and 2010 all associated with La Nina.

Unlike El Nino years, the impacts of La Nina often continued into the warm months, the BOM said. 

In eastern Australia, the average December-March rainfall during La Nina years is 20 per cent higher than the long-term average, with eight of the ten wettest such periods occurring during La Nina years.

Ms Curro said it was a huge relief after living through months of drought, with the rainfall setting her up for summer

Ms Curro said it was a huge relief after living through months of drought, with the rainfall setting her up for summer

The east coast, which tends to be less affected by La Nina during the winter months, can experience severe flooding during La Nina summers.

Of the 18 La Nina events since 1900, 12 resulted in floods, with the east coast experiencing twice as many severe floods during La Nina years than El Nino years.

Some areas of northern Australia typically experience flooding during La Nina because of an increase in tropical cyclone numbers.

The wettest years on record for Australia occurred during the strong 2010-2012 and 1974 La Nina events with the 2010-12 La Nina event bringing widespread flooding across Australia.         

WHAT IS THE EL NINO PHENOMENON IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN?

El Niño and La Niña are the warm and cool phases (respectively) of a recurring climate phenomenon across the tropical Pacific – the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ‘ENSO’ for short.

The pattern can shift back and forth irregularly every two to seven years, and each phase triggers predictable disruptions of temperature, winds and precipitation. 

These changes disrupt air movement and affect global climate. 

ENSO has three phases it can be: 

  • El Niño: A warming of the ocean surface, or above-average sea surface temperatures (SST), in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Over Indonesia, rainfall becomes reduced while rainfall increases over the tropical Pacific Ocean. The low-level surface winds, which normally blow from east to west along the equator, instead weaken or, in some cases, start blowing the other direction from west to east. 
  • La Niña: A cooling of the ocean surface, or below-average sea surface temperatures (SST), in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Over Indonesia, rainfall tends to increase while rainfall decreases over the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The normal easterly winds along the equator become even stronger.
  • Neutral: Neither El Niño or La Niña. Often tropical Pacific SSTs are generally close to average.
Maps showing the most commonly experienced impacts related to El Niño ('warm episode,' top) and La Niña ('cold episode,' bottom) during the period December to February, when both phenomena tend to be at their strongest

Maps showing the most commonly experienced impacts related to El Niño (‘warm episode,’ top) and La Niña (‘cold episode,’ bottom) during the period December to February, when both phenomena tend to be at their strongest

Source: Climate.gov

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