The east coast of Australia saw record rainfall during the first week of 2008. The rain caused floods that left many residents stranded, said news reports. This image shows rainfall accumulations in northeastern Australia, particularly around Brisbane, as recorded by the near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (MPA) between January 1 and January 8, 2008. The highest rainfall totals for the period (shown in dark red) are over 250 millimeters (about 10 inches).
Rain and hail in Brisbane caused widespread flooding and damage to power lines and trees, said news reports. Hinze Dam near Queensland’s Gold Coast south of Brisbane filled to overflowing from the rains, threatening homes downstream with flooding, even though much of the area has been on severe water restrictions. Local officials were reporting that as much as four-and-a-half months’ supply arrived in water reservoirs in the space of days, according to the The Brisbane Times.
Much of southeastern Australia has been in the grip of a multi-year drought, but a pattern of rainy weather has started to break the drought. La Niña, the counterpart to El Niño, has been providing some relief. Reversing El Niño’s pattern, La Niña brings lower-than-normal ocean temperatures to the central Pacific, and above-average temperatures in the Western Pacific. This in turn results in more rainfall, coming from more frequent storms and cyclones in the Western Pacific, northern and eastern Australia, and the archipelago of islands north of Australia including Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines. As of early January 2008, forecasters were expecting an above-average level of cyclone activity around Northern Australia.
The Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis is based on data collected by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite, which was placed into service in November 1997. From its low-Earth orbit, TRMM provides valuable images and information on storm systems around the tropics using a combination of passive microwave and active radar sensors, including the first precipitation radar in space. TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency, JAXA.