Welcome to Did You Know, a daily OCC segment where we tackle some of the easy and not so easy questions we come across on our social networks.
After last night's complex question tonight's question is an easy one and comes from ages ago i.e. 2012ish in a forum we used to belong to
"Per unit of area what Australian state/territory is the wettest"
The answer - Tasmania, it wins and it wins by a lot of millimetres Want to know why? then read on
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Tasmania is a very small state bounded by oceans at every boundary and is located in the "Roaring 40's" belt, an area between the 40 and 50 degree latitude belt that gets pummelled by frontal systems. Add to that some tall mountain ranges on the Western side of Tassie which enhances the frontal lift by what we call orographic lifting and you have a recipe for lots and lots of rain. As you head further eastwards the frontal systems have dumped a lot of their moisture in the western half of the state and the air becomes drier, however the depth of moisture with some frontal systems is so large that even the Eastern side of Tassie sees reasonable rainfall. Also no matter which way the wind blows, some surface/low level moisture is being pulled into some part of the state because it is surrounded by ocean. Of course the majority of rain falls in Winter time with those big cold fronts, but those mountain ranges in the west of the state are able to extract every tiny bit of water vapour out of the air so even during Summer when the rest of the state is lucky to get 100-200mm, those mountain ranges manage to allow the Western part of the state to pick up 400-600mm. The other good thing about Tassie's rain is compared to the rest of the country its reliability of rainfall is much higher.
Victoria comes a distant second place and some people are surprised by that because Victoria can be prone to some massive heatwaves and bushfire risks. and while Queensland might be home to the wettest towns in Australia (we'll leave those for a different "Did You Know" ) it's also home to some very large areas that suffer through a relatively dry climate. South Australia is where weather goes to die and is the nation's driest state per unit area.
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