Au­thor­i­ties pre­pare for sum­mer’s wild weather

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - JA­COB GRAMS

AU­THOR­I­TIES are braced for what is sta­tis­ti­cally Gee­long’s most con­ducive pe­riod for se­vere sum­mer thun­der­storms.

Ac­cord­ing to his­tor­i­cal anal­y­sis from Gee­long Weather Ser­vices doc­u­ment­ing 163 se­vere thun­der­storms, one­fifth have struck the re­gion be­tween Jan­uary 15 and Fe­bru­ary 7, mak­ing it the most con­cen­trated pe­riod of thun­der-filled fury.

The Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy de­fines a storm as se­vere when it is ob­served to pro­duce wind gusts above 90km/h, hail greater than 2cm in di­am­e­ter, heavy rain­fall or tor­na­does.

The Jan­uary 17, 1981 storm was con­sid­ered one of Gee­long’s most de­struc­tive, pro­duc­ing a 102km/h wind gust at Point Wil­son, cap­siz­ing count­less yachts and killing a golfer who at­tempted to take shel­ter un­der a tree.

The pe­riod has been par­tic­u­larly no­to­ri­ous for light­ning-re­lated in­juries, caus­ing five fa­tal­i­ties since 1960 and an in­jury most re­cently on Jan­uary 27, 2016, when the city re­ceived more than a month’s rain­fall within an hour and sent cars float­ing down Moora­bool St.

Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy cli­ma­tol­o­gist Si­mon Grainger said weather model re­anal­y­sis showed Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary tra­di­tion­ally had all the in­gre­di­ents for se­vere thun­der­storms.

“Jan­uary and into Fe­bru­ary brings a favourable com­bi­na­tion in this part of the world of moist air flow­ing down from the trop­ics and when it gets here there’s more chance of de­vel­op­ment due to the warmer land, which would in­crease the like­li­hood of storms,” he said.

Mr Grainger said while a hot air mass had dom­i­nated the weather over the month, driv­ing a week of warmth in Gee­long this week, its ori­gins from in­land Aus­tralia didn’t sup­port the chance of his­tory re­peat­ing.

Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy se­vere weather man­ager Steven McGib­bony said storms re­quired a spe­cific for­mula of heat, mois­ture and lo­cal-scale fac­tors to form, mak­ing them dif­fi­cult to pin­point more than a few days out.

City of Greater Gee­long direc­tor of city ser­vices Guy Wil­son-Browne said teams were on-call to re­spond when re­quired in the typ­i­cally busy pe­riod. Flash flood­ing is one of the city’s ma­jor con­cerns. Mr Wil­son-Browne said coun­cil was look­ing at ways to im­prove its ex­ist­ing stormwa­ter drainage net­work.

“The city’s en­gi­neer­ing team un­der­takes mod­el­ling of flood prone ar­eas and ex­am­ines his­tor­i­cal data to de­ter­mine pos­si­ble ways of re­duc­ing the risk of flood­ing to prop­er­ties,” he said.

Coun­cil is cur­rently work­ing on the Lara Flood Study, which will even­tu­ally re­sult in de­tailed flood maps for the Hovells Creek catch­ment, sup­port­ing ef­forts to safe­guard Ren­nie St, Lara.

Gee­long will hit a top of 33C to­day and to­tal fire ban is in place across the re­gion.

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