Very Wet Days at Manilla: Decade Excesses

Log of decade totals of rainfall excess, Manilla, NSW

Last month I posted a complete log of days at Manilla that had more than 50 mm of rainfall.

I call days that have more than 50 mm of rainfall “very wet days”. At Manilla, on the average, these have come only once per year. Days with more than 50 mm of rainfall have no special meaning, but they can be taken as a rough indication that local flooding, or even general flooding, is likely: the “Flooding Rains” of Dorothea Mackellar.*

The graph I posted did not show whether these very wet days, likely to cause floods, had a bigger effect at some times than at others. This graph shows that.

Since it is only the excess rainfall that runs off, leading to flooding, I have subtracted 50 mm from each “very wet day” rainfall amount. Then I have summed all such excesses for each half-decade. I summed the half-decades in pairs to give a decade sum (in mm) centered on the years 1885, 1890, 1895, etc. For example, the decade centered on 1925 had a total of daily rainfall excesses of 157 mm. (Values for 1880-84 were estimated from those for 1883 and 1884.)

Some decades had very high values of excess rainfall: there was about 250 mm in the decades centered on 1900, 1960, 1965, 1980, and 2000. There were very low values, below 100 mm in the decades centered on 1885, 1890, 1950, and 1990. There appears to be no trend.

The shape of the graph is not unlike that seen on graphs of rainfall deficiencies, particularly the 12-month rainfall deficiencies.

* By arrangement with the Licensor, The Dorothea Mackellar Estate, c/- Curtis Brown (Aust) Pty Ltd.

Managing my low-energy house: II. Features needing attention

Photo of clear-story area with winter sun and a fan

Clear-story fan set for winter

This post, and the companion post I. Features needing no attention were posted originally to a forum of the Alternative Technology Association (See Note below.)

My low-energy house at Manilla, NSW, maintains year-round comfort in a climate of daily and seasonal extremes. In the climate classification of the Building Code of Australia, it is in Zone 4: “Hot dry summer, cool winter”, along with Tamworth, Mildura and Kalgoorlie.
This house differs from most houses in relying on the design of the house to achieve comfort, with hardly any energy needed for heaters or coolers.
There is little artificial control: the “home automation system” consists only of timers set twice a year. Some of the comfort features call for daily action in certain seasons. However, these simple daily chores could have been avoided by small changes in the design.

The success of the house in maintaining comfort in all seasons is shown by scatter-plots of daily indoor and outdoor maximum and minimum temperatures over a period of three years.

Features re-set twice a year

Dates for re-sets

For part of each year, the Manilla climate is too hot for comfort, and for the rest it is too cold. Some house features are re-set twice a year, making a “winter regimen” and a “summer regimen”. At first, I set the change-over dates near the equinoxes, 20th March and 22nd September. For simplicity I changed on 1st April and on 1st October. Later, I found it better to change on 1st March and 1st November, because the time when the climate is too hot is shorter than the time when it is too cold.

Motorized curtains

Curtains fitted to five north-facing windows, and a shutter fitted to a sun-porch window, should be opened to admit winter sun and closed at night to trap the heat. In summer they should be closed by day to keep out radiant heat and opened at night to allow heat to radiate out. The curtains and the shutter have motors controlled by a programmable timer (at lower right in the photo). In autumn (1st March), the timer is set to open at 07:40 and close at 17:20 daily. In spring (1st November) the timer is set to open at 18:00 and close at 06:00 (Standard Time).

Clear-story windows and fans

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Managing my low-energy house: I. Features needing no attention

Photo of sunlit house interior

July sun heats the house

This post, and the companion post “II. Features needing attention” were posted originally to a forum of the Alternative Technology Association (See Note below.)

My low-energy house at Manilla, NSW, maintains year-round comfort in a climate of daily and seasonal extremes. In the climate classification of the Building Code of Australia, it is in Zone 4: “Hot dry summer, cool winter”, along with Tamworth, Mildura and Kalgoorlie.
This house differs from most houses in relying on the design of the house to achieve comfort, with hardly any energy needed for heaters or coolers.
There is little artificial control: the “home automation system” consists only of timers set twice a year. Some of the comfort features call for daily action in certain seasons. However, these simple daily chores could have been avoided by small changes in the design.

The success of the house in maintaining comfort in all seasons is shown by scatter-plots of daily indoor and outdoor maximum and minimum temperatures over a period of three years.

I. Features needing no attention

Heat transfer to and from the heat bank

The mass of concrete, bricks and rubble under the concrete floor slab is edge-insulated with foam to a depth of half a metre to prevent heat leaking sideways to and from the surrounding soil and subsoil. This 150 tonne edge-insulated under-floor mass is a “heat bank” which absorbs and yields heat so slowly that it holds the same temperature (at 750 mm depth) within a degree for weeks at a time.
Double-brick walls (17 tonnes) inside the house, and the floor slab itself (28 tonnes), are also parts of the heat bank. Their exposed surfaces (See photo.) absorb heat from sunshine (and yield heat to cool flows of air) so as to spread heat (or coolness) around the rooms. Within each day they conduct heat to and from the rooms of the house, and from room to room. They then conduct heat slowly to and from the under-floor mass.
In the absence of the house, the under-floor mass would have the same temperature as the subsoil of the area. A thermometer at 750 mm in the subsoil near the house shows a 14.6° yearly temperature range, from 12.9° to 27.5°. Even an ordinary light-weight, poorly-insulated house built on a concrete slab on the ground here would be made more comfortable by these stable subsoil temperatures. Midsummer and midwinter temperatures in such a house (next door) are plotted here and here.
It is clear that temperatures in that conventional house vary much less than outdoor temperatures, and remain close to that of the subsoil. The heat bank under my solar-passive house has an even more stable temperature than that of the surrounding subsoil. (There is a graph showing one year of heat bank and subsoil temperatures here.)

Insulation

Thermal insulation reduces the flow of heat in and out of the house. With sufficient insulation, the heat of the day is replaced by the cool of night before the house becomes too warm. Insulation improves comfort permanently. Continue reading

Summer 2014-15 on average

Wildflower photo

Commelina cyanea in Monash Street

This summer, January was no warmer than December or February, and none of these months was as warm as November! The number of hot days (over 35°) had a similar pattern that “sagged” in midsummer: Oct: 4 days; Nov: 10 days; Dec: 7 days; Jan: 2 days; Feb: 3 days; Mar: 2 days (in the first week). There were no very hot days over 40° this summer, although there had been three in spring.

A very cool spell from late January to early February had day and night temperatures 4.5° degrees lower than normal. Humidity was also low at that time and earlier, in mid-December.

Weather log for summer 2014-15

By most measures, this was a normal summer. Compared with the 21st century average, the daily maximum temperature and the daily temperature range were both just one degree low, and skies were a little more cloudy. The dew point (humidity) was low, but much higher than last summer.

The rainfall of 224 mm could hardly be more “normal”. It lies between the 125-year average of 227 mm and the 125-year median value of 221 mm. Summer rainfall totals like this also occurred in 2002-03 (227 mm) and 2008-09 (229 mm). Historically, summer rainfall totals in the “normal” range from 220 mm to 230 mm occurred in 1902-03, 1917-18, 1936-37, 1948-49, and 1957-58.

Climate for summer 2014-15.


Data. Rainfall data is from Manilla Post Office, courtesy of the Post-master, Phil Pinch. I thank Phil for his help over the years. When he retires this March, there is some uncertainty about the future of rainfall observations that have been maintained for 132 years since March 1883.

 Temperature, including subsoil at 750 mm, and other data are from 3 Monash Street, Manilla.

3-year trends to February 2015

Parametric plots of smoothed climate variables at Manilla
“February 2015: very dry”

Trends toFebruary 2015

  February raw anomaly data (orange)

In February, most anomalies moved back towards “droughts” from the “flooding rains” values of January. Rainfall became extremely low, but daily maximum temperature did not rise as far as “normal”.
Exceptionally, February daily minimum temperature and subsoil temperature became very low.

Fully smoothed data (red)

The latest fully-smoothed data anomalies (August 2014) complete the winter of 2014. Through the winter season, most values were static and near normal. (Dew point, like most recent values of that variable, was 3 degrees lower than normal.)


Note:

Fully smoothed data – Gaussian smoothing with half-width 6 months – are plotted in red, partly smoothed data uncoloured, and raw data for the last data point in orange. January data points are marked by squares.
Blue diamonds and the dashed blue rectangle show the extreme values in the fully smoothed data record since September 1999.

Normal values are based on averages for the decade from March 1999.* They appear on these graphs as a turquoise (turquoise) circle at the origin (0,0). A range of anomalies called “normal” is shown by a dashed rectangle in aqua (aqua). For values in degrees, the assigned normal range is +/-0.7°; for cloudiness, +/-7%; for monthly rainfall, +/-14 mm.

 * Normal values for rainfall are based on averages for the 125 years beginning 1883.

February 2015 a very dry month

Photo of a baby Kookaburra

Baby Laughing Kookaburra

After a very cool first week, normal temperatures returned, both by day (33°) and by night (18°) . Early on, most mornings were sunny. Later, many were almost overcast, but only three days had light rain, with a maximum of 3.4 mm.

Weather log  February 2015

  Comparing February months

Most of the last seven February months have been unusual in some way. This month was very dry, with near-record low rainfall and very low humidity. By contrast, February 2012 was very wet, as well as very cool. Both 2011 and 2014 were very warm, but 2011 was also very cloudy and humid. February 2013 was the coolest, without being wet like 2012.
The total rainfall of 7.6 mm this month was very low (6th percentile): this was the 8th driest February, and the driest since 1989, which (like 1974) had 7.0 mm. Still, taking rainfall totals for groups of months, only the 24-month total (985 mm) is a serious shortage, in the 9th percentile.

Climate forFebruary 2015 


Data. Rainfall data is from Manilla Post Office, courtesy of Phil Pinch. Temperatures, including subsoil at 750 mm, and other data are from 3 Monash  Street, Manilla.

With the retirement of the Post-master, Phil Pinch, the future of rainfall observations at Manilla Post Office (055031), kept for 132 years since March 1883, is uncertain.

February Climate Anomalies Log

Heat indicators log for February

This post is the twelfth in a set for the 12 calendar months that began with March. Graphs are sixteen-year logs of the monthly mean anomaly values of nine climate variables for Manilla, NSW, with fitted trend lines. I have explained the method in notes at the foot of the page.

Raw anomaly values for February

Extreme values of February anomalies were as follows:

Daily Maximum Temperature Anomalies (3) -4.2 deg: February 2008; -3.3 deg: February 2012; -3.3 deg: February 2013;
Daily Mean Temperature Anomalies (1) -3.3 deg: February 2008;
Rainfall Anomalies (1) +120 mm: February 2012;
Dew Point Anomalies (2) -4.6 deg: February 2014; -4.6 deg: February 2015.

Trend lines for February

Heat Indicators

All heat indicator quartic trends began slightly low and ended slightly low. They had a low peak about 2004, and a trough later. The trough was deepest and earliest for daily maximum temperature (2011), followed by daily mean temperature in 2012, daily minimum temperature in 2014, and subsoil temperature in 2015 or later.

Moisture indicators log for February

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