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Updated: Aug 27, 2019

Beautiful "Build Up" storms develop out the back of Burketown

Welcome to the fifth of many wet season wrap ups 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 go into the Southern Gulf Country and specifically the township of Burketown in Queensland (pop approx 250).

Burketown lies just inland of the Southern Gulf coast along a flood plain and has a Tropical Savannah type climate averaging 832mm of which about 810mm falls during the Wet Season. The region between Burketown and Mt Isa is home to some of Australia's largest cattle properties. I guess what Burketown is most famous for though is being Australia's Barra capital. If you're serious about your salt water barra fishing, Burketown has to be on your bucket list. The township doesn't experience the huge monsoonal bursts that places on the coast like Karumba or Mornington Island do, but the town does sometimes receive very heavy 24 hour rainfall totals over 150mm associated with the passage of a decaying Tropical Cyclone. During the past season the lack of monsoonal influence on the area resulted in falls that were well below average, even though the season kicked off full of promise.

Burketown lies just inland of the Southern Gulf. Normanton lies to its North-East, Mornington Island lies to its North-West and Mt Isa lies about 400km to the South

WET SEASON 2018/19 RAINFALL You wouldn't be to blame if you thought this wet season was going to be a bumper one with the way it kicked off. A massive storm on Tuesday the 16th October kicked us off with over 50mm in 40 minutes in a slightly unusual mid-morning thunderstorm that also bought 87km/hr wind gusts. The storm dumped 58.8mm in total and this was the wettest October day recorded and the wettest October recorded in the very small sample size of 15years of records (at the current station).

In November we really didn't see the increase in storm activity we have come to expect in this region, with the town only copping 2 storm events all month. But they were both doozies. A late afternoon storm dumped almost 20mm of rain in 10 minutes on November the 22nd and an absolute beast of a storm hit the town at lunch time on November 28. Just check out how crazy our lightning tracker went at the storm's peak below. Interestingly, similar to our Katherine update, the storm occurred the day after the town experienced its warmest November Minimum temperature on record.

December saw Tropical Cyclone Owen in the Gulf meandering around like a drunken sailor and Burketown was put on Cyclone Warning. However the cyclone's effect on the town were negligible with some fresh south-easterly winds and a couple of rain days with falls between 10-15mm on December 13/14. That was pretty much all she wrote for the month with little else happening once the cyclone moved away.

January was a very poor month rainwise with no monsoon and no cyclone activity to speak of. Just one solid thunderstorm hit the town on the 20th January dumping a 48mm load in a hurry. The back-end of January saw the craziness that was affecting North Queensland try to extend west to Burketown but because the rain depression between January 30 and February 7 stayed to the town's South-East, Burketown did not receive any meaningful rain from it. While the rest of North Queensland was under water, Burketown only copped about an inch of rain. There was little to write home about the rest of February.

Ex Cyclone Trevor was about the most interesting thing that happened in March with its remnants tracking south-west across the Gulf and whacking into the QLD/NT border area to Burketown's west. This resulted in fresh to strong and humid East to North-Easterly air flow across Burketown with wind gusts recorded to 70km/hr and 85mm of rainfall. The rain from Cyclone Trevor was the final rainfall that Burketown received from the 2018/19 season. A season full of promise but could best be described as a 'let down'.


A couple of Tropical Cyclones were present in the Southern GOC during the season. The most notable ones being Owen and Trevor. Owen's impact on Burketown was very minor while Trevor did have a significant impact on the town with easterly wind gusts to 70km/hr recorded on March 23rd and 85mm of rainfall fell that day as well.



Overall, like most of Northern Australia, temperatures remained well above average across the 2018/19 Wet Season. December was a very notable departure from the mean with the town recording its hottest December overall in 15 years. The passage of TC Owen to the north which resulted in hot dry southerly winds was most likely to blame. The minimum temperature on the 28th November of 29.3 was a highest daily temp record for the new station and preceded a cracker of a storm the next day. The only other daily noteworthy temperature departure was on December 31st where another highest daily minimum temp record was broken of 29.6 degrees.

Where do we go next? Tune in tomorrow night to find out.


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