More than 60 Queensland locations have received the highest amounts of March rainfall ever recorded, in many cases breaking records that had stood for more than 50 years.
As severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie made landfall on March 28 it brought heavy downpours to vast areas of the state.
Four days of extreme weather that ended the month were enough to break March rain records at 62 weather stations in Queensland and cause flooding that continues to impact Rockhampton in central Queensland and Logan and Beaudesert in the south-east.
Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Dr Jeff Sabburg said the extraordinary rainfall figures could largely be attributed to the low pressure system left over from the cyclone.
“What was exceptional in causing the records was the amount of moisture in the air associated with ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie,” he said.
The small rural town of Dalveen in the Southern Downs recorded 252mm of rain for the month, breaking a record that had stood since 1914.
Plane Creek Sugar Mill in Sarina, south of Mackay, received a phenomenal 1.3 metres of rain, which broke the record set in 2011 with a total that was more than four times the region’s long-term March average of 300mm.
Some locations like Gladstone, the Maroon Dam and Carneys Creek almost doubled their previous records.
While it could take some time to study the precise nature of severe rainfall and extreme weather events, Dr Sabburg said the increasingly warmer planet was almost certainly having an impact.
“Generally speaking with climate change, higher temperatures cause more moisture in the atmosphere, which can lead to heavier rainfall,” he said.
Damage from cyclonic winds and flooding has affected thousands of properties across Queensland, with more than 750 homes deemed uninhabitable.
Electricity has been restored to about 45,000 people blacked out by Cyclone Debbie but by yesterday morning almost 20,000 homes were still without power.