February 2018 had heavy rain at last

Wave cloud photo

Lenticular over Warrabah

Although there were eleven hot days over 35° this month, no days went over 40°. On the average, the second week was just 3.4° above normal, but the first week had been 3.5° below. Through most of the month, the weather was sunny with little rain, making the soil extremely dry. A drought seemed likely.
A violent front on the 25th brought an estimated 54 mm of rain: the heaviest fall in years. There is no official record of this rain event. Nor is there an official record of the only recent events of such a large amount: 47.0 mm on 4 February 2016, and 54.5 mm on 17 June 2015. The latest official readings that were higher were more than five years ago. They were in the record-breaking month of November 2011: 60.8 mm on the 14th, and 62.9 mm on the 27th.

[See note below on “Very wet days at Manilla”.]

Weather log for February 2018

Comparing February months

Compared to last February, this one was not nearly so hot and not so dry. Nights were near normal and days, at 33.9°, only one degree above normal (32.9°). Despite other signs of high moisture, the early morning dew point of 9.9° was very low.
Thanks to the one day of heavy rain, the estimated monthly rainfall total (71 mm) was above the average (67 mm) and at the 65th percentile. Among totals for more than one month, there is just one serious shortage. The 72-month (6-yr) total of 3400 mm is at the 8th percentile (450 mm low).

Climate in February months

Very wet days at Manilla

Log of decade totals of rainfall excess, Manilla, NSWDaily rainfall amounts of over 50 mm (“flooding rains”) are extreme events that feature in several posts on this blog. A graph in the first post on the topic is a log of every very wet day in the 130-year record. In a second post, I graph the pattern of how the total rainfall in very wet days changes decade by decade (Graph copied here.). Very wet days have a curious relation to drought that is analysed in “More Droughts After Heavier Rains”, Parts I, II, and III.

Data. A Bureau of Meteorology automatic rain gauge operates in the museum yard. From 17 March 2017, 9 am daily readings are published as Manilla Museum, Station 55312.  These reports use that rainfall data when it is available, but it is not.  The gauge last reported on 24 September 2017.

All data, including subsoil at 750 mm, are from 3 Monash Street, Manilla.


More Droughts After Heavier Rains III.

Graphical log of errors when droughts are predicted from rains

Droughts and flooding rains at Manilla NSW were related in a way that is remarkable and unexpected.

Part III. Predicting drought from heavy rain

[Back to Part II: Scatter-plots]

The graph above is derived from the first graph in this series (copied here) by using the blue regression trend-line from the scatter plot of selected data (also copied here). (For data details, sLog of 1-year droughts and 5-year lagged heavy rainfallsee Note 1, below.)

The equation of the trend line, y = 0.030x is used AS IF to use the daily rainfall excesses to predict the drought frequency five years later. The graph shows the “error” of this “prediction”. (In Note 2, below, I concede that this data set could not support such prediction.)
As expected from the previous graphs, the “prediction” is accurate at most data points to 1975. It is correct to the nearest percentage whole number at nine of the eighteen points. From 1940 to 1955, droughts are uniformly more frequent than predicted. After 1975, the error curve swings wildly up and down.

Could droughts have been predicted from heavy rainfalls?

Scatter-plot 1890 to 1975

By about 1915, it is conceivable that this relationship could have been discovered, either by analysis of such data, or by modelling of the climate system. Then, the data for the next 20 years, up to 1935, would seem to confirm it. Data from 1940 to 1955 would cause doubts, but data from 1960 to 1975 would restore confidence. Then the utter failure of the model in the following four decades would have led to its abandonment, at least for the time being.

Climate shifts of 1975

Continue reading

More Droughts After Heavier Rains II.

Scatter-plot 1890 to 1975

Droughts and flooding rains at Manilla NSW were related in a way that is remarkable and unexpected.

Part II. Scatter-plots

[Back to Part I: Graphical logs]

I have made scatter plots to see how much correlation there is between the two data sets: the frequency % of severe 12-month drought and the total decadal daily rainfall excesses over 50 mm, when lagged five years. (For data details, see Note 1, below.)

A. The first 70% of the data

The first scatter-plot includes only the first 70% of the data, from 1890 to 1975, which showed matching patterns on the graphical log copied below. I have broken the data points into two groups: the aberrant group 1940 to 1955 (red) and the fourteen best-matched points (blue). The trend line that best fits those fourteen points is y = 0.028x + 0.407, with R-squared = 0.898. However, I have been able to fit the trend line y = 0.030x, that shows y proportional to x, without making R-squared worse than 0.892.
Similarly, the four decades centred on 1940, 1945, 1950 and 1955, had y = 0.050x, with R-squared equal to 0.902.

Expressed in words: for fourteen of the first eighteen data points, the frequency % of severe 12-month droughts remained close to 0.03 times the decade total of daily rainfall (>50 mm/day) measured five years earlier. For the other group of four adjacent points, the number was not 0.03, but 0.05.

B. All the data

Scatter-plot 1890 to 2010

The second scatter plot shows data for all 25 (five-year overlapped) decades. There is a “shot-gun” pattern, as expected. Continue reading

More Droughts After Heavier Rains I.

Log of 1-year droughts and 5-year lagged heavy rainfalls

Droughts and flooding rains at Manilla NSW were related in a way that is remarkable and unexpected.

Part 1. Graphical logs

As the first graph shows, for most of the 130-year record year-long droughts came in direct proportion to very heavy daily rainfall five years earlier. (For data details, see Note 1, below.)
The match between these two variables is astonishing. Both are based on rainfall readings, but they are scarcely related. Excessive daily rainfalls are transient extreme weather events; 12-month droughts are an aspect of climate.

Mackellar’s “Droughts and flooding rains”

Dorothea Mackellar’s famous line * is more apt for this graph than for other graphs where I use “flooding rains” to mean periods unlike drought. (See Note 2. below.) The rains and droughts that I plot here both bring hardship. Severe droughts lasting one year are among the worst of droughts: long enough to use up reserves, and not so long as to be eased by periods of rain. The daily rainfall events plotted are the ones that cause damaging floods.

Features of the graphical log

Log of 1-year droughts and heavy rainfalls

This second graph shows the data at the actual dates. Although the data points for the decade excess of heavy daily rainfall and those for frequency % of 12-month droughts have a matching pattern for much of the record, the pattern is offset. Heavy rainfall points come five years earlier than corresponding drought points. Notice that the heavy rainfalls do not (except in 1980) come squarely in gaps between droughts.
Lagging the rainfall points by five years (as in the first graph) makes some matches almost exact. Such matches occur at all data points from 1890 to 1975, except those from 1940 to 1955, where drought frequencies are relatively higher. Both variables show a two-decade-long, slow decline from 1905 to 1925. At the chosen scales, the amplitude of corresponding rises and falls are usually similar as well.
After 1975, daily rainfall oscillates through a wide amplitude with a twenty-year period, while the frequency % of drought varies Continue reading

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.

Note added June 2015.

The close similarity of two graphs, the one of heavy rainfalls in this post, and the one of year-long droughts in an earlier post led me to write a further series of three posts:
More droughts After Heavier Rains I.
More droughts After Heavier Rains II.
More droughts After Heavier Rains III.

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

Log of Very Wet Days at Manilla.

Graphical log of days with over 50mm rain

In the 130-year record of very wet days at Manilla, NSW, extreme rainfalls have not become more common recently.


I arranged all daily rainfall readings for Manilla, NSW, from March 1883 to December 2014 in order of rainfall amount, and selected only the 125 readings greater than 50 mm. I plotted the values against the date, expressed in years, to two decimal places. (See Note below.)


The five highest readings

The five highest readings, greater than 110 mm per day, include events that gave rise to two floods and the filling of a reservoir newly-built to store water for irrigation. The highest daily reading, 142.7 mm, came with the highest flood known at Manilla, in 14/01/1964. Thus, the highest flood matches the highest daily rainfall. That is because nearly all the flood-water came down the Manilla River, which flows in a semi-circle, with none of the catchment area far away from the rain-gauge.
These five highest readings seem to fly in an arc above the rest, with a peak near the middle of the graph. The rise and fall of this arc may have no meaning, for there are very long gaps between the events. All the same, it is a fact that there were no readings above 110 mm per day in the decades before 1910 or after 1998.

Periods with no daily readings over 80 mm

Continue reading