BOM Buries Record Daily Rainfall During Lismore Floods

From Jennifer Marohasy’s Blog

Jennifer Marohasy

The NSW Premier handed down the 2022 Flood Inquiry report last week and at the same time many of the 1,498 written submissions were made public. The submissions make for harrowing reading, especially the first-hand accounts from the Lismore community.

There are very personal stories explaining how there had been limited flash-flooding up to 27th February. On that Sunday some thought the rains were easing off. There was no warning from the Bureau of Meteorology or the local emergency services of the imminent catastrophe.

Then the deluge began; through the night the flood waters rose to cover floorboards, to windowsills and then roofs.

There are stories of women phoning emergency services only to be told they are on their own – that emergency services are stretched beyond capacity – they would have to rescue themselves.

Stories of being alone on rooftops listening to others screaming for help through the night. Vomiting from the fear as the floodwaters rose.

The submissions all describe the flooding as being on Monday 28th February. It is that date, and its sounds and smells, that are etched into the collective memory of the survivors.

The new report acknowledges that the flooding of Lismore was devastating, and that it occurred on 28th February.

Yet the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in its monthly summary for February 2022 claimed a new 24-hour record for Lismore on 24th February. It is the case that 146.8 mm fell at Lismore airport during the 24 hours to 9am on 24th February 2022, but this was not the main event.

There was a Special Climate Statement 76 – Extreme rainfall and flooding in south-eastern Queensland and eastern New South Wales published by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology on 25th May 2022 replete with regional distribution maps of rainfall across broad geographic bands and with intervals of varying quantity, with the highest value of 200 mm to an unknown total amount (pg. 5).

It claims that there has been an increasing trend in extreme hourly rainfall (pg. 18) but no actual data is provided – the reference is to State of the Climate 2020. I’ve been through that report. It provides no actual observational data.

The ‘special report’ published in May 2022 was intended as a ‘formal record of the extreme rainfall and flooding that occurred in south-east Queensland and eastern New South Wales in February and March this year’, that is according to the associated media release. Yet there is no actual assessment of the data from that period, the data for this year. And why is there no mention of the actual 24-hour rainfall total for Lismore for the 28th February?

The bureau’s main rainfall gauge at Lismore Airport failed on 28th February.

But the bureau has a network of gauges for flood warning including on Dawson Street, Lismore. This data is not publicly available beyond the week in which it is issued as a daily total.

Back in March I explained at my blog that 146.8 mm could not be a new 24-hour rainfall record for Lismore because 334.3mm fell at Centre Street in Lismore on 21st February 1954.

What I did not know back then, and what is not mentioned in this new three volume report, nor in the Bureau’s Special Climate Statement released in May 2022, is that 467 mm was recorded at the official rainfall gauge on Dawson Street by the Bureau of Meteorology for the 24 hours to 9am on 28th February.

A screenshot taken on 1 March 2022, by a concerned citizen, shows that the official BOM rain gauge in the centre of Lismore registered 467 mm on 28th February 2022, breaking the previous record of 334.3 mm set in 1954. There was no recording from the rainfall gauge at Lismore Airport because it had failed – it was knocked out by the deluge that began on 27th February. So why hasn’t the total from the Dawson Street gauge been entered somewhere as the official record?

Knowing this 24-hour total helps makes sense of what happened.

Many of the submissions from community members blame the new highway, built across a flood plain but not on piers, for the record flood heights. They explain that the highway acted as a dam stopping water from flowing downstream.

Curiously this 24-hour rainfall total, what should be recognised as a new 24-hour rainfall record for Lismore of 467 mm, has not been entered into any of the official reports or into the official Australian Data Archive for Meteorology (ADAM).

I am not suggesting a conspiracy, rather a combination of incompetence and an ambivalence towards correct information and its public availability.

For many years management at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology have been more interested in output from their simulation models, attending Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meetings, and warning of endless drought whereby dams will never fill again, rather than considering how to improve the skill of their rainfall forecasts. Never mind accurate record keeping.

I wrote about some of these issues in a letter to the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, with responsibility for water, and the Bureau of Meteorology’s Simon Birmingham back in August 2014. Click here to read that letter, with information that is still so relevant.

Various experts, not only from the bureau but also from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes (CLEX) have pontificated over the flooding of Lismore and suggested that it could have something to do with climate change and greenhouse gases based on current trends. Click here, for the full report. Yet in all this there is scant regard for actual rainfall totals, skill of rainfall forecasts, and no mention of the 24-hour total of 467 mm that was recorded at Dawson Street, Lismore, on 28th February.

Proper analysis of the cause of the flooding – variously blamed on climate change or the building of the new highway – requires that there first be some agreement on how much rain actually fell at Lismore on 28th February 2022.


The feature image, top of this blog post, is from submission #1112 by Shayne Kelly. She writes of the need for land swaps and buy back. That her house is 100 years old and flood waters had never previously entered the house itself until February 2022, when flood levels were 3 metres higher than any previous flood.

Many, including submission #0565 by Cassandra Gadsby, blame the new highway for creating a dam with no escape routes for the water. Some suggest the hew highway should have been built on piers because it is across a flood way.

This photograph is from the submission by Cassandra Gadsby. Most submission are listed alphabetically by first name, and many share photographs.

Catherine Pritchard explains in her submission #0566 that:

We are living in a wetland and flood plain. I have smelled the soil in my garden in Train St, Mullumbimby during a ‘normal’ year. It smells like swamp, it doesn’t smell like soil. I have mapped in my mind the large paperbark [trees] through Leftbank Rd, New City Rd, the community gardens, Lomandra Land and all over the Shire. I have watched as wetland birds, spoon bills and Jabiru, land after a ‘normal’ rainy season in the paddocks at the end of New City Road and listened to the chorus of frogs … We have built without ecological awareness in the wrong spots.


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Pop Piasa
August 24, 2022 2:12 pm

Perhaps they should call it BOMB (Bureau Of Meteorological Blunders).

Reply to  Pop Piasa
August 24, 2022 7:03 pm

That might at least stop them jetting off to conferences, as they wouldn’t make it through the airport.

August 24, 2022 2:28 pm

More and more stories are going to be told about habited areas being “suddenly” flooded.

Urban development is undoubtedly the main cause.

Lismore has been a predictable flood town since forever.
(As a kid in the 1950s, we had a widowed relative who lived there.
Our dad had to go and help her clean up after a flood every year throughout the 50s)

But back in the day, the floodwaters just spilled out over ‘vacant’ bushland.

In 2021 vast areas of the outskirts of Vancouver BC were flooded more seriously than had been previously experienced.
Modifications of the floodplain areas was the cause.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Mr.
August 24, 2022 2:48 pm

Near me in the St. Louis MO area of the USA there was recently record amounts which fell almost exclusively over urban areas, where urban heat island effect is prominent. I think this is evidence that human influence on weather (and therefore climate) is limited to microcosms and not globally distributed

Reply to  Pop Piasa
August 24, 2022 5:05 pm

Yes Pop, I try to always emphasise that this planet has numerous climateS (plural), not just A climate.

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Mr.
August 25, 2022 3:28 am

30 climate zones and sub-zones according to the Köppen–Geiger climate classification and even within each a number of variations. Speaking of climate as some amorphous creature is a gross oversimplification and hides the complexity. We should revel in this rather than have this inordinate fear of climate. This is part of the wonder of nature. That wonderful fragrance of a fast approaching storm on a hot day after a long drought is exhilarating – not an ominous harbinger of climate doom.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
August 25, 2022 1:29 am

What about last year’s extreme rain events in China, Germany and Western Canada? Or this years NZ and Kentucky floods? It is climate change, isn’t it?

Reply to  griff
August 25, 2022 3:18 am


Reply to  griff
August 25, 2022 3:29 am

Yes, of course climates change. Always have, always will.

Try saying something original.

Reply to  griff
August 25, 2022 3:39 am

not unusual and half of chinas in drought right now, the other part is flooding badly
about the same as usual
monsoons in India came late but are making up for lost time
again thats not unusual either

Mark BLR
Reply to  griff
August 25, 2022 4:12 am

What about last year’s extreme rain events in …

What about them ?

It is climate change, isn’t it?


From the IPCC’s “Glossary” annex, attached to all three “Working Group” contributions to the AR6 document cycle :

Climate change : A change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer.

If you are using an alternative definition of the term “climate change”, please provide a reference (or, even better, a link) to the original so that everyone can check whether your source is more (or less, or equally as) reliable as the IPCC.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  griff
August 25, 2022 9:39 am

What about this year’s drought in China? You can’t have it both ways, griffy. In any location, it’s more of one or more of another, otherwise your claim is that “no matter what happens, it’s climate change” and that’s just plain rediculous.

Stuart Hamish
Reply to  griff
August 26, 2022 2:13 am

“What about last years …..” The issue is concealment of meteorological data and you are moving the goalposts …..The IPCC has admitted in the past three reports on climate extremes to “low confidence ” in a global signal of climate change induced worsening floods

Gerry, England
Reply to  Pop Piasa
August 25, 2022 6:40 am

Tall buildings seem to have an effect on the movement of rain systems and was a likely cause of the Houston flooding as the system stalled over the city. Something that should be researched more but, as it will contradict the climate change fantasy, won’t be.

Reply to  Mr.
August 24, 2022 3:49 pm

can you rewrite but replace flood with bushfire – same thing applied

Reply to  Mr.
August 25, 2022 12:51 am

Vancouver outskirts flooding was an old lake bed that had been drained for agriculture use and housing had crept in as well.

Reply to  Mr.
August 25, 2022 1:28 am

Or much, much more rain in shorter periods.

Reply to  griff
August 25, 2022 3:18 am

It’s bombs away and drought all over the planet, we don’t have an equality sprinkler.
Sadly, the hysterical latch on to extremes, totally clueless to how it keeps life on its toes in the great competition of adaptation.

Mark BLR
Reply to  griff
August 25, 2022 4:25 am

Or much, much more rain in shorter periods.

AR6, WG-I report, in the Executive Summary to Chapter 4, “Future Global Climate: Scenario-based Projections and Near-term Information”, on page 556 :

Near-term projected changes in precipitation are uncertain, mainly because of natural internal variability, model uncertainty, and uncertainty in natural and anthropogenic aerosol forcing (medium confidence).

“If you thought that science was certain … well, that is just an error on your part.” — Richard Feynman

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Mr.
August 25, 2022 3:07 am

It is a pity that far more wetlands are not incorporated into city development. They are not only wonderful for birders but for families with younger children and anyone who wants to experience some normality outside the all the towers of bricks and mortar.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Mr.
August 25, 2022 7:18 am

Can’t find it now but I read somewhere that the levee supposedly protecting Lismore had been breached twice in the past but no attempts had been made to increase its height

Tom Halla
August 24, 2022 2:38 pm

My understanding is that most urban flooding is due to poor drainage. As BOM data is presumably used in designing drainage systems, failure to keep good records is dangerous.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Tom Halla
August 24, 2022 3:23 pm

Depends on where. Along the Mississippi all the levies to protect rural farmland in the natural floodplain mean the water builds up in the river channel. Then when a levy is overtopped near a city, a flood disaster ensues. Before the levies, those cities built along the river seldom had severe flood problems.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 24, 2022 3:54 pm

That’s right because before the levees where installed the river was free to spread out all along its length which minimizes the flood spread because it was spread out along the riverbanks for many miles now, we have levees that CONCENTRATE the water into the river channel itself setting up a much bigger flood in small regions that are often deep and swift.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 24, 2022 4:55 pm

Another huge change along the Mississippi and other rivers is many farming areas have installed plastic flexible pipe drainage that gets the water to the river quicker. Of course in earlier centuries land clearing sped up drainage. It was deep dark hardwood forests where eastern tributaries flowed into the Mississip.

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 24, 2022 4:06 pm

Although hydrology and hydraulics have been studied and practiced for 1000s of years current engineering practice only dates from the 1950s.
Modern Urban drainage design ( which is based on statistics and hence historic data) has been extremely successful since then.
Lismore problems pre date the 1950s
And is not really an urban drainage issue.

Reply to  Waza
August 25, 2022 1:01 am

Looked at the Bing maps for the town, they have a very good quality shading relief map and it shows a now disused railway line embankment which crosses from the old railway station location on high ground on outskirts northern side of town across the centre of town , the river and continues out of town .
Blocking the natural flow when it floods will absolutely raise the flood hieght through the gaps in embankment and any part of town upstream . Of course it s an existing. High flood area anyway and I think one owner in A 100 yr old house saying it had never flooded before we can take with a grain of salt

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 25, 2022 3:43 am

again wimmera -our council has little to no interest in actually putting drainage IN to help fill our lake it earns a buck from tourism off of. while were not in a place that could manage a proper deep flood all over, we DO have serious issues with roadsides yard and croplands flooding enough to be a real nuisance and health risk for crops and animals.Bom says we dont get the rainfalls we know we DO

August 24, 2022 2:38 pm

I believe Tim Flannery to be largely responsible for the lack of awareness as to the natural cycles both short and long term. At the time of his infamous prophecy of the dams never filling he assumed that that particular ENSO cycle was becoming the normal without considering that what was occurring on this side of the Pacific Ocean was only one part of a larger ocean wide system that varied through different phases over time. He was also ignorant of the role of the Indian Ocean with regards to Australia’s climate, something unforgivable for someone claiming to be an expert. He had no appreciation of the larger and longer term weather and climate cycles.
The only people who could be held equally or more responsible are those who gave him credibility by appointing him to positions he was not qualified to fill creating a classic case of the blind leading the blind.

Reply to  Kalsel3294
August 24, 2022 3:43 pm

That is the problem with Flannery, he is not a ‘climate expert, he’s a fraud who is just full of it. He should stick to examining insects.

Reply to  Streetcred
August 24, 2022 5:17 pm

examining kangaroo bones.

Reply to  Mr.
August 25, 2022 1:05 am

He’s got more jewels in his crown than the Queen
mammalogist, palaeontologist, environmentalist, conservationist, explorer, author, science communicator, activist and public scientist. He was awarded Australian of the Year in 2007 for his work and advocacy on environmental issues.
Jack of all trades but master of none

Reply to  Kalsel3294
August 24, 2022 6:48 pm

Flim Flam is still advising the Australian government. I’m pretty sure he works for the Climate Council. How is it that even though these people have proven to be wrong, and continue to be wrong over many years, are still held in high regard?

Reply to  Megs
August 25, 2022 9:05 pm

AKA Tom Foolery

Rud Istvan
August 24, 2022 2:50 pm

I find this post interesting for 3 reasons. First, another illustration of BOM incompetence by overlooking the Dawson Street rain gauge, preserved by a citizen screen shot. Second, another illustration of anthropogenic problems NOT caused by climate change. In this case, a lower cost (not elevated on pilings) new highway across a known flood plain that acted like a dam to make the city’s flood worse. Third, a government ‘after action’ report that whitewashes the first two, only to be undone by citizen comments and Jen’s careful parsing of them.

Trust very little from ‘official’ government sources. A few recent US examples:

  1. EIA: on shore wind and CCGT are at LCOE parity. Nope, when correctly computed on shore wind is 2.5x CCGT.
  2. High gas prices are Russia’s fault (Ukraine). Nope, Biden shut down KXL, halted federal land O&G leasing, halted GOM leases. Gas price had doubled in US BEFORE 24 Feb 2022. As a rule of thumb effects happen after, not before, causes—except in Biden’s confused dementia world.
  3. Fauci: Masks help prevent COVID spread. Except COVID is aerosolized like flu, and past studies showed masks are useless against flu. (Reason: aerosolized virus particles are on order of 0.1 microns; mask porosity is on order of 3 microns. Mosquitoes do not find chains fences to be a barrier, either.
  4. COVID vaccine is safe and effective. Neither is true in hindsight. They cause at a minimum myocarditis in young adults, and do not prevent infection. And boosters increase the risk of myocarditis while still not preventing infection since the virus mutates rapidly.
Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 24, 2022 3:12 pm

First, another illustration of BOM incompetence by overlooking the Dawson Street rain gauge, preserved by a citizen screen shot.”

A citizen screen shot of … observations at the Dawson Street gauge, taken and posted by the BOM.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 24, 2022 3:27 pm

NS, you didn’t read Jen’s post. She said the dailies are NOT public after one week, and the image she used was from a citizen screen capture during the week is was public. AND BOM did NOT add the information to their part of the report. Up your game, please. That was just a provably pathetic reply to my comment based on Jen’s post itself, which is still up for you to read.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 24, 2022 3:56 pm

I consider him a classic thread fogger people I encounter over the years are this way because they struggle to see the big picture or the main point of the article which is why they constantly argue over small stuff and leave the body of the article alone.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 24, 2022 4:06 pm

See below. The dailies posted by the BoM are from a variety of sites – this one was actually operated by the Lismore City Council. There are a huge number, and so of course they can’t post them all forever. The report includes a lot of record breaking readings, many greater.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 24, 2022 5:25 pm

So they’re not up to the job taxpayers are paying them for?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 24, 2022 11:19 pm

Why can’t they post them forever?

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
August 24, 2022 11:52 pm

Well, somebody could, if there is real interest. But it isn’t BoM’s data. They post for the convenience of farmers, who want a finegrained but current report on where rain is falling near them.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 24, 2022 3:42 pm

Rud, I’m with you.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 24, 2022 4:20 pm

Rain gauges are not necessary owned by the BOM. Many rain gauges are owned by private citizens who report to bom.
Additionally advanced rain gauges that record every 6 minutes are owned by catchment authorities. Here in Melbourne you can just email the Melbourne Water hydrologist after a major storm and he will gladly send the 6 minute data of relevant stations.
This is extremely useful as an extreme say 60 minute rainfall event might have created a record 12 minute event in one suburb but a record 24 minute event in another suburb. ( hence how they say you can have multiple 100 year storms)

Reply to  Waza
August 24, 2022 4:47 pm

Here in Melbourne you can just email the Melbourne Water hydrologist after a major storm and he will gladly send the 6 minute data of relevant stations.”
Or you can pick them off the online map here.

“Rain gauges are not necessary owned by the BOM.”

In fact, the Dawson St Gauge is owned by the Lismore City Council.

August 24, 2022 4:01 pm

This post is pretty silly. The BoM report may not have mentioned that particular reading at Dawson St, which is not at an official BoM site, but is in fact operated by the Lismore City Council. But the report had plenty to say about the record rain in the Lismore region:

“The catchments of the Tweed, Brunswick, Richmond and Wilsons rivers had 7-day average rainfalls that were 37% to 61% above previous records (Table 11). The highest 7-day total recorded in eastern New South Wales was 1,346 mm at the flood warning site at Uki (058167) on the Tweed River (Table 8). The highest total reported in near-real time in the Bureau standard network was 1,090.6 mm at Rosebank (Repentance Creek (058070)) (Table 7). Rainfall in this region was especially intense at 1- and 2-day timescales, with the Wilsons River catchment average rainfall exceeding previous records at both timescales by more than 200 mm. The 2-day area-average of 649.0 mm (Table 11) compares with the next 3 highest 2-day values, 398.9 mm (March 1974), 388.6 mm (February 1954) and 368.0 mm (March 2017), which were previously also the three 3 highest floods on record at Lismore.

The weekly rainfall totals in parts of north-east New South Wales were in excess of 60% of the average annual total rainfall (based on the 1961–1990 period), with a broader region receiving more than 40% of the average annual total rainfall. For the 6-day period to 28 February, rainfalls across parts of north-east New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland were at least 2.5 times the February average (based on the 1961–1990 period), with some parts more than 5 times the average. Rainfalls across parts of north-east New South Wales and southeastern Queensland for 6-days ending 28 February were between 110–125% of the average summer rainfall. “

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 24, 2022 4:34 pm

NS, you really ought to observe thenUS Army’s first rule of holes:
when in one wanting out, first start digging.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 24, 2022 4:50 pm

So what was the important point of this article, Rud?

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 24, 2022 5:12 pm

Simple, if you had followed any of the facts. BOM is compromised.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 24, 2022 5:19 pm

Well, that’s what they always say, regardless of facts. What did BoM actually do wrong here? Apart from not including a particular daily reading from an external party in their broad survey of the record rain?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 24, 2022 5:17 pm

I think Rud has Previously explained the concept of lying by omission.

Reply to  Waza
August 24, 2022 5:31 pm

Omitting what?

Stuart Hamish
Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 26, 2022 2:30 am

“What did BoM actually do wrong here ……”Omitting what ” ….? …….. Nick Stokes is reduced to gaslighting ……The “Adjustment Bureau of Meteorology ” has form though …..15 or so years ago the BoM’s David Jones was publicly pontificating on the drought conditions as the “new normal “…..That is just one example ….The Bureau of Meteorology is indeed compromised .and deceitful …..Another example is the BoM’s discussion of the Australian cyclone time series caveats with no mention of the fact that even if the chronology is truncated to 1979/80 severe and non severe cyclones have nonetheless declined in frequency …..Deception by omission ……….Or as I call it with the neat alliteration ” climate kitman”

Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 24, 2022 5:24 pm

The blog author Dr Marohasy posted a Table of daily rainfall for the 28th Feb. That is readings for 24hrs prior to 9am on 28Feb. Notice on that Table Dunoon registered 775mm on 28th. Dunoon is only ~15km north of Lismore with a river running south to a junction at Lismore. I blogged on this in March and I have just updated a comment of mine with a few links and a screen save.
ScoMo hapless in face of flood anger at Lismore 10March2022

Reply to  wazz
August 24, 2022 5:35 pm

Yes. And that Table came from the BoM. And they say, for example,
with the Wilsons River catchment average rainfall exceeding previous records at both timescales by more than 200 mm. The 2-day area-average of 649.0 mm (Table 11)”
In the report they give aggregate values for the region, rather than picking out individual extremes. That is what matters as a cause of flooding.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 25, 2022 1:12 am

[A] At my link “ScoMo helpless in face of flood anger at Lismore” I list point 1 to 4 how landuse changes/clearing bush since settlement plus the increase in paved and builtup areas would tend to increase flood risk.
[B] In addition there are various problems with the BoM network of rain gauges. For example right through the network many sites show a deterioration in data quality over the last 20 or 25 years.
I have a blog on this subject “Deterioration in recent BoM rainfall data 4Nov2019”
which should explain that issue of increasing data gaps. 
[C] This century there has been an increase in rain gauges particularly AWS. So this much greater sampling density will obviously produce higher readings than the gauge network of 1880 would have recorded. 
[D] We also have State owned weather station networks mostly started this century – site numbers often start with a 5.
[E] It is also common to find “crazy high” electric/electronic reading errors in BoM daily data. These are often culled out. But it is obvious that if there are “crazy high” rain data errors there will also be errors closer to the “normal data range” for that day or even “low range” data errors. I have never seen where BoM addresses this. 
[F] I see on news the latest BoM Outlook is reported. 
BOM’s latest outlook signals soggy spring weather for eastern Australia 25Aug22
If you checkout their previous rain Outlook for August issued on 28July22 you will see the SW WA region was predicted to be dry – but in the real world – checkout rainfall percentages for August to date.
SW WA (a poster child for “climate change stole our rain”) has had above average rain this month. BoM Outlooks are not to be relied on.

August 24, 2022 4:05 pm

Climate Change is a godsend to governments and government agencies. It accounts for all sorts of bad things but never the incompetence of officials. Every report on natural disasters in Australia this century places the blame on Climate Change. It is the excuse that keeps giving.

Luckily Australians are spending trillions to ward off the evil demon CO2. That will restore perfect weather again and Lismore will never flood again. It is no longer woke to burn witches but it makes as much sense and would cost less.

In Australia, floods follow fires and fires follow floods. That occurred long before CO2 was demonised and will continue to occur as long as there is enough CO2 to support the biosphere.

Australia will squander vast resources on building wind turbines and transmission lines to connect them to load centres rather than improving water and forest management for a fraction of the cost and to great benefit of the country.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  RickWill
August 24, 2022 5:20 pm

“It is the excuse that keeps giving.”

These huge floods in a country decidedly on the dry side in its interior, should be a a godsend! Bring in the bulldozers, some with rubber buckets to first scoop up mindless protestors and the rest to put in large reservoirs for water supply for farming, forest fire fighting and to accommodate most floods.

It is precisely to prevent mitigation so climate protesters have something to rant about. Why do we have to knuckle down to those destroying a sensible way to live for us the koalas, wombats and kangaroos too?

Christopher Hanley
Reply to  RickWill
August 24, 2022 6:23 pm

Luckily Australians are spending trillions to ward off the evil demon CO2

I’m sorry Australians must do far more to fight climate change.
For a start exports of thermal and coking coal must cease immediately despite that coal vies with iron ore as the largest export earner and hence the basis of living standards.
Saving the Earth is not easy, a dramatic fall in living standards is the price that must be paid.

Reply to  Christopher Hanley
August 24, 2022 8:18 pm


August 24, 2022 4:29 pm

Climate alarmists abuse the link of climate change creating more floods in a similar way the abuse the link to bushfires.
Floods are not just dependent on rainfall.
How full are dams
How wet is the ground
What stage are crops in
What houses, are built and what standard
Increase and change in distribution of houses
Maintenance of infrastructure
Poor or incorrect planning
Snow melt( not issue in Lismore)
Distribution of recent rain events across a catchment
Flooding is caused by the combination of the above.

Reply to  Waza
August 24, 2022 5:28 pm

It will get harder to build on flood plains though. Insurers are going to limit that stupidity by making the premiums beyond reach.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  RickWill
August 25, 2022 12:18 am

Generally, insurance premiums are already beyond reach, especially in terms of cost:benefit.
Recently, I asked the Australian Financial Complaints Authority to investigate a problem with my home/contents insurance. It got down to fine detail that requires reading the 104-page PDS over and over. There is one sick joke after another that you have signed away for your annual premium.
Read your own Terms and Conditions.
Ours showed that there was protection, insurance covered earthquakes they said in big print. Then in the fine print, only when you advise the insurer before 72 hours is up, after the earthquake. How many people, in the 72 hours after an earthquake, would be of organised mind and able to remember to claim in that first 72 hours?
Matters like this just go on and on.
Advice: read your PDS

Dave Andrews
Reply to  RickWill
August 25, 2022 7:47 am

In the UK every year Local Authorities give permission for house building on flood plains even if the Environment Agency objects (mind you the Environment Agency is a bit of a misnomer, but that’s another story)

The result is that today 1 in 6 properties in the UK is at a higher risk of flooding. The problem got so bad that many people could not get insurance for their properties. Thus the Government had to step in by backing a special scheme with the insurers called Flood Re in 2016.

August 24, 2022 4:33 pm

It was the worst flood,
since the last worst flood.

Reply to  Richard Greene
August 24, 2022 4:51 pm

In fact the complaint here is of the BoM understating rainfall.

August 24, 2022 4:44 pm

Hi Jennifer,
I was sitting at home in South Tweed Heads on the 28th and I can tell you the rain was continuous and very very heavy for over 24 hours. After all the rain in January all the ground was saturated and the rain had no where to go.
What I now see and find so stunning in the rain chart above is not so much the rain in Lismore but the amount of rain in the whole Wilsons River catchment, familiar places like Dunoon & Nimbin etc. ALL had huge amounts of rain that day. It appears the whole catchment got around 500 mm of rain in 24 hrs, when you understand this then you start to understand why not just Lismore but the whole area was so badly flooded.
Locate the places above on the maps below you will see what I mean.

Reply to  ColA
August 24, 2022 5:57 pm

the link took me to Oregon

Reply to  Mr.
August 24, 2022 8:11 pm

Specifically: The duckduckgo link goes to the Oregon, USA page.

August 24, 2022 8:22 pm

BOM Buries Record Daily Rainfall During Lismore Floods
“I am not suggesting a conspiracy…”

“buries”? That is exactly what you’re suggesting; it’s your MO and that of the IPA. Attack the BOM and of course those wretched “models”, concoct doubt, spread lies and inuendo because it suits the political and finacial goals of your paymaster billionaire coal mining magnate Gina Rhinehardt. Shameless disinformer.

How one think tank poisoned Australia’s climate debate

Reply to  Loydo
August 24, 2022 8:54 pm

poisoned Australia’s climate


What – asphyxiated the climate by taunting it with threats such as –

“I fart in your general direction”?

Reply to  Loydo
August 25, 2022 2:33 am

I’ve read that Crikey article published in 2019 and it includes criticism of Peter Ridd ex James Cook University for his claims that the Great Barrier Reef is not dying.

Peter Ridd and Jennifer Marohasy have been pointing out for years that the reef is doing just fine, and their evidence was vindicated by the most recent report of the Australian Institute of Marine Science finding that coral cover is the best it’s been in 36 years of study (

In fact, Jennifer has publicly criticised the thoroughness of this latest report, despite it basically saying what she’s been saying.

The Institute of Public Affairs has a submission to the NSW flood inquiry pointing out that in the Queensland/NSW 2022 flood zone the BoM’s historic daily rainfall records show that the annual frequency and mm volume of the 90th (wettest 10%), 95th (wettest 5%) and 99th (wettest 1%) percentile rainfall days since 1900 have been in decline since the 1970s (

The average annual frequency of 99th percentile rainfall days at 20 stations in this year’s flood region was 1.77 in 1900-1999 and 1.58 in 2000-2021, with the total mm volume of such days dropping from 216.46mm to 194.25mm per year.

Records were certainly broken in this year’s tragic floods but a single event doesn’t override long-term data trends showing a decrease in extreme rainfall days that cause flooding.

The BoM’s special report on the floods effectively concedes they can’t be blamed on climate change but rather a combination of slow moving weather systems dumping a lot of rain on soils saturated by two consecutive La Ninas (

However, the BoM report nevertheless claims that there has been an increase in extreme hourly rainfall totals in recent years. Hourly, not daily. Such data isn’t publicly accessible and there’s no way they have hourly rainfall observations dating back before probably the 1990s, so there can be no historic comparison.

Why did the BoM cite hourly extreme rainfall, which at worst causes localised flash flooding? Does their daily rainfall data show trends similar to the IPA analysis that don’t support the climate change narrative?

They say these increases in hourly rainfall intensity have been particularly in the north of Australia, one of the driest continents on earth, where it’s been known for a long time that annual rainfall totals have been increasing. If you get more rainfall each year there’s a fair chance your scant records of hourly downpours will also show an increasing trend.

The BoM and warmists might be horrified by more rainfall up north but I’m sure the flora and fauna are loving it. In fact, the Spring bushfire outlook published yesterday shows this year’s greatest risk is in Western Australia’s north and in central Australia where so much rainfall over the past couple of years has seen vegetation flourish to create a fire hazard when it seasonally dries out.

It seems a bit weird claiming that Jennifer, the IPA, Gina Rhinehardt, etc, are spreading lies and innuendo when they’re the ones producing well researched, accurate and vindicated data, while their critics have been wrong about the Great Barrier Reef and resort to spooky, unsourced and dubious claims that extreme hourly rather than daily rainfall incidents are increasing.

Reply to  Chris Gillham
August 27, 2022 3:01 am

We need to very careful drawing conclusions from point rainfall data (e.g., Yamba) or combined datasets (e.g., Lismore Centre Street, which appears to be in a park in north Lismore surrounded by trees, and Lismore AWS, which is in the open about 3 km away at the airport). This is particularly the case for the extremes of data distributions such as 95 and 99 percentiles. Also, as zero rain is a legitimate observation, analysis of percentiles should clearly state if all daily data are included or just rain-day totals. As rainfall is episodic (occurs as ‘episodes’), stochastic (unpredictable) from day to day and long-tailed (when its wet it’s very wet), a single high value for a specific site may not be informative.

Floods on the North Coast of NSW in 2022 were caused by saturated catchments and when a catchment is saturated additional rain must run off. At that point it does not matter if the catchment is partially covered in roofs or roads, the landscape and the roads/roofs all run equally. The simple fact is that the combined runoff exceeded the capacity of the natural drainage system at the point where the Wilson River converged with Leycester Creek to form the Richmond River, which is where the city was established as a major port in the 1840s. South Lismore has a long history of being flooded from the earliest days.
South coast rivers can discharge huge amounts of water. This is because contributing catchments are relatively small, short and steep. The capacity of the catchments to discharge to the ocean during extreme events at Lismore is mainly constrained by the size of the river channel, which is prone to being silted-up in years of below to average flow, when as velocity declines the rate of settling increases.
For short, steep catchments with extensive floodplains, dams won’t work. Dredging is expensive and impractical, so what to do? As we enter a drying phase the next floods may not occur for another 20 or more years.
Finally, I’m disappointed that you lashed-out at Dr Peter Ridd on your site regarding his commentary relating to the latest AIMS bleaching report. It is disgraceful that you say “Peter Ridd purports to be the leading proponent of quality assurance of Great Barrier Reef science”.

As a terrestrial ecologist/agronomist, I have researched the methods (as you could). Consequently, I made no assumptions about key habitats, whatever that is.  However, despite its problems and biases, as a rapid assessment method, the manta-tow approach is repeatable, it provides an estimate of coral cover at the interface between reef flats and reef slopes (i.e., the reef crest) that are identifiable between reefs, several hundred of which can be surveyed in a single season. Coral cover is a general term that is not designed for sub-sampling.

Having just returned from discussing the issues with Peter Ridd and researched the methodology, coral cover at the reef crest is an indicator of reef health. To research all key habitats for a single reef would take forever, not to mention the obvious risk of towing a diver across shallow reef flats behind a tinny or rubber duckie.       
Dr Bill Johnston

Reply to  Dr Bill Johnston
August 27, 2022 2:13 pm

Please note that in relation to “Finally, I’m disappointed that you lashed-out at Dr Peter Ridd on your site regarding his commentary relating to the latest AIMS bleaching report”, I was referring to a comment by Jennifer on her blog that had nothing to do with Chris. Apologies for the typo.


Bill Johnston

August 25, 2022 1:27 am

I don’t understand this article: clearly Australia has seen two (or more locally) truly extreme rain events this year, clearly that is as expected and predicted by climate science.

you can quibble about the details, but the underlying fact is quite plain: Australia is being impacted by climate change: it sees a cycle of drought/fires interspersed with extreme rain events.

Reply to  griff
August 25, 2022 3:52 am

Yes, of course climates change. Always have, always will.
Try saying something original.

Mark BLR
Reply to  griff
August 25, 2022 5:00 am

… clearly that is as expected and predicted by climate science

… but the underlying fact is quite plain

Just because something is “clear / plain” to you (or me) doesn’t mean that the issue is as “clear / plain” to everybody (or indeed any-body) else.

Simply ASSERTING THAT***I*** believe that X is true” does not “auto-magically” convert statement “X” into “a fact”.

When making SWEEPING CLAIMS it is customary to provide references (or, even better, links) to “supporting evidence” if you want other people to treat them as anything other than BALD ASSERTIONS.

Name (at least) three future theoretical “severe [ / 10-sigma / ‘unprecedented’ ] weather events” that would not be “as expected and predicted by climate science”.

Name (at least) three theoretical “precisely on the existing trend line(s) weather events” that would not be “as expected and predicted by climate science”.

“A theory that supposedly ‘explains’ everything actually explains nothing.” — Karl Popper (lightly edited)

… you can quibble about the details …


I can.

Not being “banned” or “moderated out of existence” for my viewpoints (or my idiosyncratic posting style …) is one of the main things that distinguishes WUWT from many other climate change related websites.

Australia … sees a cycle of drought/fires interspersed with extreme rain events.

Name a period since Australia’s “discovery” by James Cook (in 1770 AD) when that was not the case.

Name a period in the aboriginal “oral history” of the island continent currently known as “Australia” which says something different from your summary of its “climate”.

How, exactly, has Australia’s “climate” changed ???

Reply to  griff
August 25, 2022 5:04 pm

Of course, you don’t understand it because you don’t want to understand it which is why you remain clueless about it.

Australia gets these diverse weather events because it is sensitive to periodic changes in the oceans around the continent.

Stuart Hamish
Reply to  griff
August 26, 2022 3:12 am

Yes the natural cycle of La Nina’s El Nino’s Indian Ocean Dipoles and Pacific Multidecadal Oscillations ….The “cycle of drought /fires interspersed with extreme rain events ” for centuries long before the Industrial Revolution ….The exception was the 1100’s when 70 per cent of eastern Australia was afflicted by drought extending to a 39 consecutive year drought from 1174 – 1212 AD when atmospheric CO2 was 280 ppm ..The voodoo climate science of Tim Flannery and the BoM’s David Jones predicted or speculatively forecast near everlasting droughts only 15 -16 years ago despite the fact the last 60 years of the Australian national rainfall series were wetter than the previous 60 years …..Those ‘details ? …………….You are a gaslighting liar

Reply to  griff
August 26, 2022 2:28 pm

It is accepted that the nature of Australia’s forest species came about through the cycles of fires and regrowth over the ages. Whilst the oil content of the eucalypts makes them highly flammable they have evolved to survive fire so clearly the cycle of drought and fires is nothing new.
What is new is the intervention by man that tends to extinguish wildfires that threaten infrastructure such that the fuel continues to accumulate on the forest floor until it reaches a point that it is beyond the capabilities of man to extinguish it when ultimately it does catch fire as it always will.
Whilst fires and droughts are always associated, what tends to be forgotten is that the growth of the forests is directly related to rainfall. Dry periods brings little growth and vegetation dying off, however it is the wet periods where prolific growth occurs leading to the increased fuel loads.
The cycle of drought/fires is not something new, it is part of the forest DNA. Given the massive amount of nutrients each tree in a forest drags out of the soil, it relies on a cycle that returns those nutrients to the soil through the cycle of life and death that sustains the forest in a balance of available sunlight, (strong trees shade out weaker trees) nutrients from the soil, and available moisture.
What is changing is the availability of CO2, essential for all carbon based lifeforms, and increased moisture thanks to a warmer atmosphere.

August 25, 2022 2:47 am

The new highway is at Woodburn, about 40 km by river downstream from Lismore.The maximum height of the flood at Woodburn was 7.17m on Tuesday night. The maximum height at Lismore was 14.4 at 2.00pm Monday.

Michael in Dublin
August 25, 2022 3:00 am

Thanks to Jennifer for this report.

Years ago I went to work for a few years in a city in the Intertropical Convergence Zone. I was stunned by over 250mm falling within 24 hours but without the kind of flooding I have seen elsewhere following cloudbursts. The drainage of the city was better able to handle this because it was kind of expected. Perhaps we need to listen a lot more to sensible engineers and a lot less to climate experts who are worried about what might happen 30 or 50 or 80 years hence.

August 25, 2022 3:18 am

I find it astonishing that the term “Flood Plain” doesn’t ever seem to ring any bells.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Greytide
August 25, 2022 7:55 am

It seems it does for house builders in the UK. The bell that says build, baby, build!
One in six properties in the UK is at higher risk of flooding.

August 25, 2022 3:37 am

not unusual at all. wimmera farmers and land agent have been after the BoM for some time to get rainfalls right
seems its ALWAYS far less than recorded privately quite often a large difference
bad for planning crops and for selling properties.
this week past locals have our rain at 36+mm
my yards a bog so that figure seems about right
records have less than 20mm
frogs are having a lovely time though, worms are drowning and egrets etc are feasting

August 25, 2022 7:07 am

This reminds me of longstanding normal practice by USA’s National Weather Service: Official rainfall records for a specific city are for the one official measuring location for records for that city. That location for a city during the years after a nearby major airport has opened and that airport’s weather station starts recording data generally is the airport weather station, and only the airport weather station’s data counts for rainfall records that nominally are for that city, even if the National Weather Service has another weather station in that city.

Something else: Extreme rainfall events are often localized or include localized heavy rain cells and/or a short band of heavy rain cells, and multiple weather stations in the same metropolitan area can have very different rainfall results. So, a downtown rain gauge reading is not a reliable indication of what the rain gauge at the airport would have recorded if it wasn’t broken.

August 25, 2022 9:09 pm

My Country

The love of field and coppice,

Of green and shaded lanes.

Of ordered woods and gardens

Is running in your veins,

Strong love of grey-blue distance

Brown streams and soft dim skies

I know but cannot share it,

My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.

I love her far horizons,

I love her jewel-sea,

Her beauty and her terror –

The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest

All tragic to the moon,

The sapphire-misted mountains,

The hot gold hush of noon.

Green tangle of the brushes,

Where lithe lianas coil,

And orchids deck the tree-tops

And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!

Her pitiless blue sky,

When sick at heart, around us,

We see the cattle die –

But then the grey clouds gather,

And we can bless again

The drumming of an army,

The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!

Land of the Rainbow Gold,

For flood and fire and famine,

She pays us back threefold –

Over the thirsty paddocks,

Watch, after many days,

The filmy veil of greenness

That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,

A wilful, lavish land –

All you who have not loved her,

You will not understand –

Though earth holds many splendours,

Wherever I may die,

I know to what brown country

My homing thoughts will fly. 

Dorothea Mackellar

Old Cocky
Reply to  Dennis
August 26, 2022 12:05 am

I doubt that even many Australians fully appreciate that, Dennis.

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