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The deluge was totally predictable, so why weren't we warned?

By Keith Kennelly - posted Friday, 14 January 2011

I have listened to and read much of the media information and comment in regards to the recent tragic floods in the Toowoomba region. I have had a great deal of interest but have been left looking askance at many of the irresponsible assertions regarding the cause being cast about in the media.

I am sorry to be critical but so much serious and "informed" comment by many in the media is just plainly wrong. I understand the real problem is not what is written or said by journalists but what is erroneously or superficially passed off as expert comment by many "educated experts".

I am a sailor and have taken an avid interest in meteorology over the last few years. While I am an amateur I understand my viewpoints result from much theoretical reading, detailed observation and personal experience. 


I predicted to friends, on Monday morning, "Toowoomba would be subjected to a huge deluge within a day or two".

Many might have been surprised by this at the time and no doubt it would surprise many now, especially since the "facts" have all now been supplied by "authoritative" figures.

I hotly dispute many of the common assertions.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s reported description of Toowoomba’s rain as a "Superstorm" or a line of storms was wrong and simplistic. It was something quite different.

Experts have correctly described the La Nina as the cause of the floods but that is too general and is a somewhat vague explanation as to why so much rain fell in Toowoomba and surrounds, while similar was not experienced in other parts of Southeast Queensland.

Some have claimed what happened in Toowoomba was a once in a century event. Toowoomba over the years has experienced similar, although not as intense nor as severe, flash flooding.  I.e. The general pattern of the Toowoomba flooding, as excellently described and shown in the media, but after less severe deluges, has had the same general flood pattern.


But most of all I totally reject the assertion the floods in Toowoomba were not predictable. This has been a mantra used by people, from the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh down. An examination of the circumstances and weather over the Southeast of Qld clearly shows all the events were eminently predictable. The Bureau of meteorology maps and synoptic charts of the period, all on the public record, do give supporting testament to my conclusions.

What specifically has occurred over Southeast Queensland since before Christmas is a series of perfectly normal weather occurrences. Nothing has been particularly unusual about any of them.

Initially we were subjected to a traditional monsoonal trough. It descended from North Queensland and hung about for a few weeks before Christmas and this was what had led to a saturated and drenched Southwest Queensland, Darling Downs and Southeast Queensland. Secondly Brisbane, since Christmas, had been subjected to a rain depression and it was moving slowly westward. This depression had been caused by the quite fierce, in excess of 33 knots, coastal "South East Trade Winds". They had blown for over a week.

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About the Author

Keith Kennelly is a 53-year-old small business operator, resident in Brisbane who raised two childern as a single dad. His hobbies now include swiming, reading, sailing and Texas Hold 'Em poker.

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