Welcome to our ninth wet season wrap up for Northern Australia where we take a look at Northern Australian towns/cities and go through their previous wet season. In October, we continue our features by speculating at what the early modelling might be showing for the upcoming wet season for these locations so become a subscriber, show your support and get access to this exclusive information. Today we head to North-West WA and specifically the town of Broome (pop approx 14500).
Pearling and tourism are major industries in this picturesque Kimberley town. Along with those industries we see cattle exports, mining and we are starting to see more land becoming suitable for crop growing and cattle grazing across the Kimberley as rainfall trends upwards over the past 50 years. That's the interesting aspect of the Kimberley climate is that unlike the doomy and gloomy outlooks for the Eastern states, it is one of the few areas of Australia where rainfall has been steadily increasing since the 1960's, if that trend continues we will see much more land suitable for agriculture within the next 50 years across Northern WA. Broome's climate was classed as semi-arid, but the gradual increase of yearly rainfall in the region over time will likely mean it could soon step up to a Savannah type climate regime similar to areas to its north like Mitchell Plateau/Kalumburu/Wyndham/Kununurra. While the overall trend of Broome's rainfall annually is upwards, 2018/19 did not fit the trend. After one hell of a wet season in 2017/18, the 18/19 season was below average.
WET SEASON 2018/19 RAINFALL There were no real highlights or massive rain days of the 2018/19 season, but there were some very nice and very strong storms in operation near and over the town. Because Broome sits right on the coast and because this region generally sees very weak storm steering winds, storms tend to happen inland along the Dampier Peninsula but most of the time these die before making their way onto the town proper. This past season, the region was characterized by an anomalous South-Easterly dry desert air stream due to strong low and mid level ridging across southern and Central Australia. The good side to all that was that while it kept the area dry most of the wet season, when storms did occur they were gusty and strong little beasts that dumped quickfire rainfall and were very lightning active.
Some of the most notable storms of the 2018/19 season were: 1 - Christmas cracker at 8:30PM December 23rd pummeling the town with 85km/hr winds and 10mm of rain
2 - 14th Jan a good little trampoline/wheelie bin relocater would have woken residents up at 6AM with 70+km/hr winds and a quick 30mm of rainfall 3 - 2 storms on the 23rd of Jan dumped 45mm of rain and then that was followed up by more storm activity through the 24th and 25th January in what was a brief wet period for the town as TC Riley moved away from the region and allowed a stream of moister north-easterly winds to move into the Western Kimberley. 4 - An absolute cracker on Feb 13 would have woken folks up as it buffeted the town with winds up to 115km/hr between 9:30 and 10:00PM at night and 20mm of rain - this was easily the strongest one of the season. 5 - A gusty morning storm on the 2nd March resulted in gale force winds and almost 20mm of rain.
All up this was a well below average wet season with just 60% of the town's average seasonal rainfall. Almost all of the rainfall was dominated by random lucky storm events.
TROPICAL CYCLONE IMPACTS
There were no significant Tropical Cyclone impacts on the town in 2018/19. Tropical Cyclone Riley formed a few hundred kilometres west of the town on Jan 19/20 but other than some gusty isolated showers and storms, it had no impact in the region.
Because Broome sits right on the coast, it misses out on a lot of potential storm activity, however it also means the town is able to enjoy a warm climate without it being prohibitively hot. The seabreeze onset across the town is sometime around late morning on most days and this stops the temperatures from jumping too high throughout the day. It is not unusual to see temperatures 8 to 10 degrees warmer every day about 10 kilometres further inland. In fact this is a constant source of amazement for me when looking at the high resolution forecast temperature charts on our OCC Weather Centre. There are literally streets of Broome located 1kilometre inland from the coast that will see temps 2 degrees or more higher than the official temperature at the airport. The seabreeze is that important to the livability and comfort of this town. The days where the seabreeze is even an hour or two late are very obvious and we see temps jump from a relatively comfortable 32-33 degrees to near or over 40 degrees. This will be a feature in all of this week's North-West towns/cities.
In 2018/19 the general temperature of the town was near average through the first half of the season, but when the rains generally failed and the monsoon never appeared, the temps increased to above average in the 2nd half of the season (Jan - April). No records were broken but we did have a handful of days were the seabreeze was late and we even had 4 days where it was so late that the temperature got over 40 degrees.
We go down the NW coast tomorrow night to where the wet season was a little more exciting. Tune in tomorrow night to find out where we are going.
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