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Australia

Aussie City Braces For Worst Flood In 118 Years 214

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the good-luck-down-there dept.
aesoteric writes "As parts of the Australian state of Queensland either experience or prepare for the worst floods to ravage the state in over 100 years, Australia's techies have taken it upon themselves to keep communications services on as the crisis unfolds. One man is mirroring flood information from a faltering Brisbane City Council website, and others have opened WiFi channels in their neighbourhood whilst mobile signal gets choked. But there is major damage to telco networks — at least one major fibre link has been severed by flood waters, telephone exchanges have been knocked offline and cell towers put on battery or generator back-up (or offline altogether). On a sombre note, the floods have claimed 10 lives, including children, and 78 people are still missing after facing a torrent of water up to 8 metres (26 feet) high."
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Aussie City Braces For Worst Flood In 118 Years

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  • Please Donate (Score:5, Informative)

    by H0D_G (894033) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:09AM (#34835056)

    The Queensland Government has set up a disaster relief fund for donations

    http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html [qld.gov.au]

    Please Give.

    • Re:Please Donate (Score:4, Informative)

      by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:12AM (#34835084) Homepage

      I'm doing my part!

      But no, seriously...I donated $15. Do it, people...what's going on down there is affecting everyone. I know that seems like an obvious thing to say, but it's true: no one is being spared from this disaster. "If we all do a little, we all do a lot."

      • Re:Please Donate (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:26AM (#34835214)

        It's awesome to see techies and everyone else working to do their part.

        What I find actually uplifting is this part: On a sombre note, the floods have claimed 10 lives, including children, and 78 people are still missing after facing a torrent of water up to 8 metres (26 feet) high."

        Think about that number and compare it with the number of dead and missing from many "classical" disasters - for floods, the usual death count is in the multiple thousands. Roughly 3000 in the monsoon floods for the past few incidents in Asia, for instance.

        It's a tragedy when people die in a natural disaster, but if the death count is below 100, they did a great job preparing and minimizing casualties!

        • Re:Please Donate (Score:5, Interesting)

          by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:34AM (#34835288) Homepage Journal
          Thats not really a very good comparison, Australia has one of the lowest population densities on the planet, even the cities aren't anywhere near as dense as those in places like Indonesia and Bangladesh. Comparing just the sheer # of casualties isn't a very good way to judge disaster preparedness per se.
          • by srealm (157581)

            That said, it is somewhat true. The first world status of Australia means the communications in general (including TV news and such) and disaster warning systems are much more advanced. And more of the population is able to get up-to-date information very quickly and thus warnings can actually have an impact. Population density does play a part, especially since so far the flooding has not hit a major city, and the overwhelming majority of the population IS in the top 5 cities - but not as much as the in

          • Re:Please Donate (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Kell Bengal (711123) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:31AM (#34835878)
            Thing is, Australia also has the highest urbanisation rate, with 90% of our population in cities. Floods rarely kill people in the country, but would be a colossal disaster in the city. Fortunately, almost all of our cities are on the coast and flood waters simply run off into the sea.

            Now, when the sea levels rise, that's another story altogether...
        • Re:Please Donate (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Cimexus (1355033) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:37AM (#34835306)

          Very true. Australia is a first world country with good warning systems etc. so you would expect death tolls to be lower than in developing nations. (Having said that, most of the '78 missing' are unfortunately likely to be dead too - the flooding in Toowoomba was so quick that people were washed away before they knew what was happening and may have ended up many, many miles downstream, so it will not be until the water subsides that the true toll will be known).

          There's one other thing about the low death toll that has nothing to do with preparation though. Australia is simply not as densely populated as the places you hear about with the multi-thousand death tolls. It's a huge, US-sized continent, with a tiny population. So just due to pure probability, most natural disasters affect rural areas and small towns. Casulaties are therefore usually low.

          That's about to change though - the water is now heading out towards the coast, directly through Brisbane. Unlike the other places affected, this is a large, multi-million-person city. Now the flooding there will be a gradual 'river flood' over the next few days (not a flash flood like in Toowoomba), so people do have adequate time to get themselves to safety. But the ~impact~ of it will be immense just due to the fact it is hitting one of Australia's rare densely populated areas. I hope we get away with minimal casualties, but the economic cost will be staggering: so many roads, cars, bridges, telephone poles, signs, bits of telecomms infrastructure and all the other trappings that go with a large city will be washed away. It will be enough to put at least a $15 billion dent in the economy. And that's before we consider the private cost to individuals: it is expected ~9000 homes will be submerged in Brisbane by Thursday. Many of these people won't have flood insurance.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xaxa (988988)

      The Queensland Government has set up a disaster relief fund for donations

      http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html [qld.gov.au]

      Please Give.

      Do they really need the money? Australia is a rich country, no one is going to go hungry as a result of this flood, and those who've lost their homes will be housed -- in the worst case -- by the government.

      I think a donation to rebuilding flooded areas in Pakistan would achieve more.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by timholman (71886)

        I think a donation to rebuilding flooded areas in Pakistan would achieve more.

        A donation to rebuild flooded areas in Pakistan will almost certainly wind up in the pockets of a corrupt government official or anti-Western mullah.

        Australia may be a wealthy country in the grand scheme of things, but that doesn't mean that individuals affected by the flooding can't use some additional help. And unlike Pakistan, your donation to Australian flood relief has an infinitely greater chance of actually making to the p

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Do they really need the money? Australia is a rich country, no one is going to go hungry as a result of this flood, and those who've lost their homes will be housed -- in the worst case -- by the government.

        Yes, I'm sure the head of the Australian emergency management agency will do a heckuva job.

      • Re:Please Donate (Score:4, Interesting)

        by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:57AM (#34835548)

        Apart from being a rich state within a rich country: Do they deserve donation money - or is this a classic case of reap what you sow - privatizing profits and socializing losses? Australia and especially conservative Queenslanders are amongst the staunchest climate change denialists [uq.edu.au] out there (from link: "There's been a big swing back towards climate change denialists..."). Further, Queensland is a massive coal exporter - and more than happy to fuel dirty-coal burning [nytimes.com] both in Australia or at export sites the world over, all to make a quick buck. The costs of this flood will be minuscule compared to the Queensland coal industries profits [sixdegrees.org.au]:

        In 2009, the [Queensland] state’s 52 coal mines produced a record 195 million tonnes of coal, generating $33.2 billion in export revenue. Queensland is a major player in the international coal market, exporting 168 Mt of coal in 2009 that accounted for 20% of the global trade. The industry generated $3.22 billion in coal royalties, accounting for 9% of the total income of the Queensland Government for the 2008-09 financial year.

        Australian media is divided up amongst a few powerful players (Murdoch included) that don't want any meaningful public debate of climate change. For example most Australians are completely unaware of Australia complacency in the farce that is the "Copenhagen accord" on climate change as exposed [guardian.co.uk] by Wikileaks

        • Queensland Coal and climate change [sixdegrees.org.au]

          "The coal industry is Queensland’s leading contributor to climate change, amounting to around 394 million tonnes (Mt) of greenhouse gas emissions per year. These emissions are 2.5 times the combined domestic emissions for the entire state, which stood at 160 Mt in 2008, including stationary energy, transport, fugitive emissions, industrial processes, agriculture, waste, and land use, land use change and forestry. Additionally, the mining, processing and transportat

        • by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:35AM (#34835920)

          Australia and especially conservative Queenslanders are amongst the staunchest climate change denialists out there

          Not if you compare to about anywhere in the USA outside of Al Gore's office. We get that reputation from a few loonies in an protectionist Agrarian Socialist party that was so low on members it has ended up attempting to merge with a city based conservative party with a heavy emphasis on uncontrolled free market capitalism. I don't think they'll be doing much more than infighting for a very long time.
          Coal, sugar, beef, bananas and pineapples is about all we produce and coal is where the majority of the money is. The coal industry really pays most of the taxes. Thus the government while not denying climate change is stuck in the position where they are addicted to taxes on coal and don't want to do anything to lose that money. Most of the coal actually burnt in the state goes into the state government owned power stations so a tax on consumed carbon becomes the silly situation of a government putting a new tax on itself. It's a tiger by the tail. The only alternatives for government at the moment are flat out batshit insane climate deniers within the group I mentioned about that is too busy with it's own infighting over opposed ideologies to do anything constructive.

          Anyway, the street is starting to fill up with water and high tide is still an hour away so it's time to move the car unless I want to risk it bumping against the floorboards.

        • While climate change is definitely happening, this current flood is not exactly unique in the history of Australia, just the worst that a whole generation has seen. http://www.bom.gov.au/hydro/flood/qld/fld_history/index.shtml [bom.gov.au] Australia just simply has a history of flooding and droughts. It's up to you to personally decide if these people who have lost their homes, cars, possessions, and I might point out ALL their Christmas presents, 'deserve' donation money.
          • If you've ever bought a home anywhere near water you will have seen references to a "100 year flood plain". Floods happen all the time and every 100 years or so on average you can epect one to be pretty damned big.

            To say this is due to AGW is just an example of people having shit for brains.

        • What the hell has climate change got to do with this? Do you blame every flood, drought, heat wave and cold snap on climate change? I bet if the weather was completely average you'd say that was uncanny and blame it on climate change too.

          I believe in climate change (and indeed AGW, but skeptical of current models) but please can we have some rigour? This is weather, not climate.

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            What the hell has climate change got to do with this? Do you blame every flood, drought, heat wave and cold snap on climate change? I bet if the weather was completely average you'd say that was uncanny and blame it on climate change too.

            I believe in climate change (and indeed AGW, but skeptical of current models) but please can we have some rigour? This is weather, not climate.

            While true, the big issue with climate change is it will make the weather more extreme - colder winters and hotter summers, and eve

            • by sycodon (149926)

              Sounds like an 18th Century Medicine man: It will cure arthritis, enhance your sexual prowess, and calm the stomach.

              I have a theroy on Global Warming. It will get hotter. It will get colder. Repeat. It's irrfutable.

              They have their theory too: It will be hotter. It will be colder. There will be less rain. There will be more rain.

              It's nice to have a theroy to which you can attribute everyone outside "normal".

              And..Hurricanes? Seriously? You and the emperical data have some talking to do.

            • by geekoid (135745)

              Yes, a single data point is useless, that's why it's all about trends of normal cycles and how they changes.

        • Re:Please Donate (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @12:43PM (#34836654)

          Do they deserve donation money - or is this a classic case of reap what you sow - privatizing profits and socializing losses? Australia and especially conservative Queenslanders are amongst the staunchest climate change denialists [uq.edu.au] out there (from link: "There's been a big swing back towards climate change denialists...").

          Wow. This reminds me of seeing the TV footage of people dancing in the streets when the twin towers came down. Do you really believe that the people affected by these floods deserved it? Is this God smiting the wicked people of the world?

          I certainly believe that man causes climate change, but I put my feelings on this matter aside and feel sympathy for the thousands of people who have had their lives turned upside down. It is called being human.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by FriendlyLurker (50431)

            Wow. This reminds me of seeing the TV footage of people dancing in the streets when the twin towers came down. Do you really believe that the people affected by these floods deserved it? Is this God smiting the wicked people of the world?

            I certainly believe that man causes climate change, but I put my feelings on this matter aside and feel sympathy for the thousands of people who have had their lives turned upside down. It is called being human.

            Sympathy for the victims, yes. These people deserve all our sympathy + every cent of their own governments annual $3.22 billion in coal royalties (and then some) in financial aid to help them recover. The families of those who have lost their lives deserve our deepest condolences. However - What the the world does not deserve is climate denialist states like theirs blithely selling dirty coal (20% of world production) at massive profits - outspoken members of their parliament publicly ridiculing the worlds

        • by walshy007 (906710)

          Nobody will argue the climate is changing.. it always has, what you will get is people arguing about how much of that is caused by humans, which I think is fair debate.

          A lot of greens seem to be very irrational to me, they are the sort of people who (rightly) dislike the burning of coal and yet also hate the idea of approving the construction of modern fast breeder nuclear reactors that recycle their own fuel until what is left is barely above background radiation (and ironically, releases less radiation i

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by 1u3hr (530656)
          Australia and especially conservative Queenslanders are amongst the staunchest climate change denialists

          You can find plenty of idiots in Australia, as you can everywhere, but to blandly declare that Australians as a whole believe that is bullshit. And no, the couple of quotes you gave are just anecdotal and opinions. Of course, the coal industry exerts immense pressure. And governments give way to that. As they do everywhere.

          The Wikileak story you link to is about how the USA blackmailed other countrie

        • So, let me get this straight, there is a group of people that is actively unfriendly towards the environment. A natural disaster has occurred in the area where that group of people live. Some people in that area, possibly members of the group, possibly not, have died. Other people have outright disappeared. Still other people have had their homes and livelihoods wrecked by a geological event outside the control of the human species. And yet, just because there is a group of people that live in that same are
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by FriendlyLurker (50431)
            See my post here [slashdot.org]. Sympathy is well deserved for the poor innocent people killed and affected by this tragedy. What is not deserved is how the Queensland state is hell-bent on causing the same kind of environmental disaster on the world stage.
            • Honestly, the sheer fact that you tried, and continue to try, to hijack a thread regarding donations to help the victims to further your own political message is disgusting. The parent poster was simply providing a resource which people could use to donate to disaster relief. You took that opportunity to start proselytizing about climate change because there happens to be some shady people in the same geographic location. Get some fucking perspective. Not everything has to come back to climate change, dirty
      • Ask the people in New Orleans. Parts of that city still haven't been rebuilt, and it's been 6 years since Katrina.

        Admittedly, Australia appears to be a much better-managed country, but just because it's a rich country doesn't mean that money won't be needed to help rebuild. Though I'm also thinking that there's likely to be more impetus to rebuild in Aus, too.

        • Re:Please Donate (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Cimexus (1355033) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:30AM (#34835868)

          No offence but that scenario would never happen in AU. Good efforts will be made to rebuild, just as they have been in every previous disaster (Australia is pretty accustomed to major floods, cyclones and fires). Australian cities are generally in a much better state of upkeep than in the US even before a disaster hits. (I'm not saying this in an inflammatory manner, but there is a LOT of urban decay in some places in the US, particularly the downtowns of rust belt/midwestern cities like Detroit.)

          As an aside I am appalled that New Orleans is still in the state it's in. I'm an Australian but married an American and spend a good portion of my time in the US now. I cannot understand why the US seems to be such a nation of contrasts: how can a country which is wealthy and mostly filled with good infrastructure seemingly ignore such disrepair and decay in a major city? I'm pretty sure if a similar event happened to Boston or LA or Manhattan that it would have been rebuilt years ago. It's almost like different places in the US act are treated according to completely different rules or something ...

        • Ask the people in New Orleans. Parts of that city still haven't been rebuilt, and it's been 6 years since Katrina.

          It must be noted, for the record, that part of the reason that some areas of N'Awlins haven't been rebuilt is that a sizable chunk of the people who left for Katrina never bothered to come back. Why bother rebuilding an area that noone is living in, after all?

      • by timbo234 (833667)

        It's true that the Australian government doesn't need to ask for donations to shore itself up during this crisis, unlike perhaps Haiti's or Pakistan's governments. Australia is a very rich country with relatively low debt, the amount of money the government can raise on the open market is many orders of magnitude greater than what any donation appeal can raise.

        However it's not that simple, even if the Aussie federal and Qld state governments are very generous there are always limits to what you can pay for

    • To the person who tagged this story with the above tag in the title, please show some sensitivity... people have died here.
      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        On top of that, getting a canoe is definitely not good advice. The SES already had to rescue some moron who thought it'd be fun to canoe down the raging torrent that is now the Brisbane River earlier this afternoon. You are best staying away from flood waters in general as they don't behave in the way standard water in the river does...

        • by timholman (71886)

          The SES already had to rescue some moron who thought it'd be fun to canoe down the raging torrent that is now the Brisbane River earlier this afternoon.

          When Nashville flooded last year, an 18-year-old man decided to go tubing down a creek near his apartment when the flood waters began to rise. He was last seen as his tube slammed into a bridge overpass. They found his body about two weeks later.

          You really have to wonder about the long-term prospects of those who see raging floodwaters and think: "Hey, tha

          • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:37AM (#34835946)
            Darwin is much further north of where the flooding is, but transporting them to the Northern Territory sounds like an eminently serviceable idea!
          • by anyGould (1295481)

            Reminds me of a set of photos I saw from an old hurricane.

            Picture one was of a fairly normal three-floor apartment complex. Apparently the residents decided to throw a "hurricane party". Stocked up on food and water (and booze and munchies), moved everything up to the third floor, and hunkered down to wait out the storm.

            Picture two was of the concrete pad that the apartment complex used to be on - if not for the building footprint, you'd never have known there was a building there in the first place.

        • by TheLink (130905)
          Plus the water levels are high enough that get your head smashed on bridges and stuff while getting washed down the river...

          Maybe we could call doing that a Brisbane award instead of a Darwin award ;).
        • by ross.w (87751)
          Plus remember that the sewage system doesn't go where it's supposed to in a flood. I cringe when I see people swimming around in that.
    • by labnet (457441)

      Anyone wanting to follow this event live can listen to 612 ABC.
      The peak of the flood will not hit for another 48 Hours.

      http://www.abc.net.au/brisbane/includes/winstream.asx [abc.net.au]

  • It's Fast (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mike Mentalist (544984) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:20AM (#34835166) Homepage
    This BBC video link shows how fast the flooding is - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12161502 [bbc.co.uk]
  • Sigh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AlexiaDeath (1616055) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:31AM (#34835254)
    Loss of life and damage is sad of course but... It's really depressing how short peoples memories are even in this day and age. Building on flood areas of rivers and marsh lands ever so happily. Of course its going to flood there. If not in this year then sometime in the next 50-100 years for sure. If people choose to live in such places they should be prepared to rebuild their houses now and then and have a plan of action in case of a flood.
    • Re:Sigh... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cimexus (1355033) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:55AM (#34835518)

      The people in Brisbane know full well that certain areas are flood prone, especially those that lived through the 1974 floods. Seems that the current flooding is probably a 1-in-100-year kinda event so they got a bit unlucky. But everyone in these areas in Brisbane knows and accepts the risk.

      As for the flash flooding in Toowoomba, well that's a different story. I find it hard to fault their choice of where to live. Far from being a flood plain, Toowoomba is on the top of a freaking plateau 700 metres above sea level, and nothing even remotely like this has happened in its recorded history. A freak event, and very sad.

      • Couldn't agree more.
    • Re:Sigh... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by daid303 (843777) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:26AM (#34835832)

      As a dutch person I'm offended by this. It's perfectly possible to live in areas that flood easily or are even below sea level. You just need to prepare for it, and respect the water.

      Also, flood areas of rivers are very fertile, you want to build food on those lands, or keep cattle on it.

      • build food

        This is probably caused by a literal translation from the Dutch, but it still made me chortle.

      • by Apuleius (6901)

        True enough. But if you can move uphill without having to learn German, it's wise to do so.

      • by IonOtter (629215)

        Yes, but the Dutch take extreme insult at inefficiency and incompetence, not to mention corruption and graft. They will pay a lot for quality work, but by God, it had BETTER be quality work, or there will be Hell to pay.

        Meanwhile, the rest of the world carries on with the business of fucking each other over pennies.

    • Building on flood areas of rivers and marsh lands ever so happily. Of course its going to flood there.

      You know, 75% of the state of Queensland (that is nearly double the size of Texas) has been declared to be in a state of emergency. Are you suggesting that everyone should pack up and move interstate?

    • Re:Sigh... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by thegarbz (1787294) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @07:56PM (#34842172)
      Try and understand the scale of what you're saying. People in Brisbane aren't building below sea level, they aren't building straw houses in hurricane territory. The freaky flooding that occurs no one could have predicted. Have a look at the warning. [weatherzone.com.au] Now note that the low lying areas of Brisbane which were evacuated were done so as a precaution due to a flood level of a few meters. This impacts only a few minor riverside premises. The Wivenhoe dam was built to protect us and it has done a wonderful job.

      Now have a look at Ipswich. The flood gauge is expected to peak at 20meters. Let me repeat that for you. The river is expected to be TWENTY METRES higher than it's normal level. So tell me where do you think it is safe to build? How high / far away from a river?

      I know lets build in Toowoomba, a town that until yesterday was on level 5 water restrictions (120L per person per day, no watering of gardens, no washing of cars). A town that is built near the great dividng range, a mountainous area way above sea level, and is nowhere near a major river. Today it's totalled.

      This isn't a case of stupid town planning. It's a natural disaster, unprecedented even in our flood prone history.
  • by definate (876684) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:32AM (#34835260)

    Remember when you're reading this that it's currently summer down here.

    In the region (Brisband) the average temperature for this month is around 27 degrees celsius (80 degrees fahrenheit) [bom.gov.au] and average rainfall is around 100 milliliters for the month (6.1 cubic inches) [bom.gov.au].

    In fact, the entire country has had an extremely wet summer, and an extremely dry winter for the last year or two.

    If you want to feel the effects of climate instability, you just gotta come down here, where it's sunny and 36 degrees celsius (96 degrees fahrenheit) one day and raining and 22 degrees celsius (71 degrees fahrenheit) the next.

    It's been fucking insane.

    • Wow, worst typo (it's late here).

      Brisband = Brisbane

      • by ilsaloving (1534307) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:56AM (#34835528)

        Actually, the worst (best) typo I've ever seen was someone giving a link to the Symbian website (www.symbian.com), but they forgot the m (www.sybian.com).

      • I think your best one was to say that the average rainfall is around 6.1 cubic inches! The error is confusing millilitres with millimetres. The first is a measurement of volume (about 6.1 cubic inches) and the second is a length, interpreted in this case as a depth. The area of Brisbane according to wikipedia (I know it's been raining in more than one place but this is an approximation) is 5904.8 square kilometers which gives a total typical rainfall for this area for this month of about 590 million tons or

        • by definate (876684)

          LOL Yeah.

          It's weird, I didn't really know about weather, and I intuitively thought it would be a measure of volume. So, when I looked at the BOM's site, it even says "millimetres", but somehow I read that as "millilitres", likely because of speed reading and thinking it would be in volume.

    • by Cimexus (1355033) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:49AM (#34835426)

      Small correction ... rainfall is measured as a 'depth', not a 'volume'. So *millimetres* is the unit you are looking for. Average rainfall of 100 mm equates to around 4 inches.

      To put the rainfall SE Queensland has had in perspective, virtually all weather stations in the Wivenhoe catchment have recorded between 400-700 mm of rain in the last ~three days~. Some spots even higher (Maleny in the Sunshine Coast hinterland has 740 mm / 29 inches of rain over the last three days - that is a metric f**kton of rainfall in any language)

      • by definate (876684)

        Excellent, wasn't sure about that part, thanks!

        That's an insane amount of rain. Considering it basically hasn't stop raining for them this entire month, this months levels are going to be fucking huge! In 3 days, they're already off the highest measurement on the BOM's "average" scale.

      • by dbIII (701233)
        Average yearly rainfall in those areas is 1000-1200mm. The numbers above are most of a years rain in three days.
        For the moment the water where I am is not going up or down and is just covering the road. The next high tide is half a day away, and the day after that is when most of the water is supposed to be coming through.
    • by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:52AM (#34835472) Journal

      If you want to feel the effects of climate instability, you just gotta come down here, where it's sunny and 36 degrees celsius (96 degrees fahrenheit) one day and raining and 22 degrees celsius (71 degrees fahrenheit) the next.

      It's been fucking insane.

      Hell, that's Melbourne weather at ANY time during the summer.

      • by definate (876684)

        It's not Adelaide weather at ANY time during the Summer, but it's just about all we've had for the last 2 years.

        It's been fucking shit as.

      • by gardon (38995)

        Hell, that's Melbourne weather at ANY time.

    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:55AM (#34835508)

      you just gotta come down here, where it's sunny and 36 degrees celsius (96 degrees fahrenheit) one day and raining and 22 degrees celsius (71 degrees fahrenheit) the next.

      It's been fucking insane.

      We call that "Indiana". I see your instability and raise you.
      70F and sunny and 6" of snow and 14F.

      Also, how do you measure rain? Stateside it's not in volume but in just inches. Now I believe that they use a capture device with a 1" sq top.

      • by definate (876684)

        Yeah, sorry, I messed that up. Another commenter corrected me.

        Do your 70F to 14F happen like this...
        Day 1: 70F
        Day 2: 14F
        Day 3: 70F
        Day 4: 14F ... and so on.

        It's not quite that rapid sometimes, but there's been periods of it. Though our temperatures are more like 100F, 70F, 100F, 70F, and so on.

      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        Yeah he got his units mixed up - it's the same here in Australia (i.e. an accumulated depth measurement, in millimetres rather than inches though).

        Refer to post above: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1945828&cid=34835426 [slashdot.org]

      • by Cimexus (1355033) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:18AM (#34835740)

        Yeah unfortunately, although I'm Australian and we definitely have extremes in this country, the US midwest has us beat in any "rapid weather change" contest, by a long long way. The extremes in Australia can be just as extreme in magnitude ... but they don't ~change~ as quickly as in North America.

        Australia is comparatively insulated from sharply contrasting airmasses meeting each other because we are an island, and there is nothing but ocean between us and the Antarctic. So polar airmasses making their way from the Antarctic up to Australia are considerably moderated and warmed by the ocean before they get to us. Contrast America which has solid land all the way up to the arctic, which doesn't provide much warming (especially when snowcovered in winter) and thus allows airmasses to remain colder for longer as they penetrate southwards. So you can see day by day temperature fluctuations in America that are significantly more severe than in Australia.

    • by khallow (566160)

      If you want to feel the effects of climate instability, you just gotta come down here, where it's sunny and 36 degrees celsius (96 degrees fahrenheit) one day and raining and 22 degrees celsius (71 degrees fahrenheit) the next.

      Day to day variation is weather not climate.

      • It can be more fun to fuck insane than fuck sane. You just have to be careful, as fucking insane can be kinda dangerous at times...

    • Spent Feb 2009 travelling from Sydney to Brisbane. Over a four day period 458 mm fell and cut off the local town (Bellingen). The hydrologists assured the local populace this was no more than a 1:40 year event. It happened twice more over the next three months. Things are, perhaps, changing.

      But this is the enigma of weather's relationship with climate, they are the same and very different. Climate change will certainly mean expanded, more acidic seas and glacier melt on short term (decadal) timescal
      • by ross.w (87751)

        It's a fallacy that a 1 in 40 year event or a 1 in 1000 year event can't happen two years in a row. It's more like rolling a dice. You'll roll a 4 on average one roll in six, but you can roll three fours in a row ( or more).

        It's more accurate to say that a so called 1in 100 year flood has a 1% chance of happening in any given year. Since we are in the middle of another extreme La Nina, an overall 1% chance increases somewhat.

    • by lgftsa (617184)

      Or come to Townsville where it's sunny and 35 degrees C or rainy and 32 degrees C.

    • by highways (1382025) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @07:21PM (#34841840)

      A little more than two years ago, we were worried whether our dams would run out - you can see some pretty graphs here [seqwater.com.au].

      Disturbingly, when the dam was finally full again after 8 years of drought in October, the state opposition leader John-Paul Langbroek called to increase the water storage level [jplangbroek.com] at the expense of flood mitigation. The main dam (Wivenhoe Dam) can hold 225% of it's nominal capacity for flood storage. It's currently at 190%.

      The dam is a earth embankment dam and is not design to spill. If so, it may erode the dam and potentially cause it's failure. Hence, there must be a controlled release, even while the flood conditions are occuring and it's a fine balancing act between holding back more rain and flooding downstream.

      In general, it is considered that the flood mitigation capacity (about that of Sydney Harbour) will knock about 2m off a flood peak. There would be many more people currently swimming without it, even before it's expected to peak in about 36 hours.

  • by GreenSeven (1970506) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:45AM (#34835386) Homepage
    I was stationed in Biloxi, MS during Katrina and the comm there was terrible. Of course the first thing to go were the phone switches, which made everyone else panic... Funny thing is we had internet the whole time. I think today with the advances in smartphones, the lack of a phone wouldn't have been a huge issue if we could have kept a wi-fi signal up. Good thinking from the Aussies...
  • It's good that they're not undervaluing communications, not just between emergency personnel but between regular people. While disaster relief specialists and people like the police need proper communications to organize, many regular people (maybe not Australians, though) will panic in the face of a disaster. Keeping the regular citizen from getting himself killed because of a stupid decision is an important yet underrated thing (since most disaster relief is aimed at poor countries and is intended to do t
    • by daid303 (843777)

      Keeping the regular citizen from getting himself killed because of a stupid decision

      Not a fan of the Darwin awards I guess?

  • by MetricT (128876) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:08AM (#34835656) Homepage
    Having endured a 1000 year flood in Tennessee [noaa.gov] last year, flooding of this level is destructive in ways unimaginable to those who haven't experienced it. In one day the Cumberland River turned into something resembling a white-water Mississippi River. Many had to be plucked from their homes via helicopter, and hundreds of homes and businesses were reduced to rubble. [nashvilleflood.net] It crippled the local economy for months. In sheer destructiveness it exceeds an earthquake or hurricane, though mercifully limited in geographic extent. My deepest sympathies to anyone who has to go through something like that.
  • by Chuq (8564) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @07:55PM (#34842164) Homepage Journal

    Australian Federal Opposition Leader and extreme right-wing conservative Tony Abbott has been vocally opposed to the construction of Australia's National Broadband Network (a national fibre optic network), despite the fact that this position lost them the federal election last year.

    Anyway, he is at it again.. using the floods to score cheap political points - http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/372807/floods_show_need_nbn_rethink_abbott/ [computerworld.com.au]

    And public opinion of this stunt isn't good! http://twitter.com/search#search?q=tony%20abbott%20nbn [twitter.com]

  • by Jeremy Lee (9313) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:58PM (#34844226) Homepage

    This is a couple of hours old now, but it was mostly accurate at the time I was trying to get it into wikipedia: (sorry if some wiki synax leaks through, I'm doing this fast)

    The following information may be of help to those currently caught in the unfolding emergency.

    =Evacuations=

    * Evacuations of a number of Brisbane suburbs are likely tomorrow when the river peaks and it is planned to have an increased police presence in and around all evacuated properties.http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/floodrelief/flood-info-centre-updates-reports-warnings-advice-and-how-you-can-help/story-fn7ik2te-1225985436806

    * Police are evacuating residents on Dohles Rocks Road, Griffin as well as Goburra Street at Rocklea and McKuulla Street and Skew Street at Sherwood. Stimpson Road and Brisbane Corso at Fairfield are closed. Mt Ommaney area under threat with the rising river levels - 11 January 2011 at 20:50

    * An emergency alert has been issued for Dalby residents. Myall Creek will rise to 3.8 metres by 10pm 11/1/11. Concerned residents should evacuate to family, friends or evacuation centres. Call 46626666 for more information.http://www.facebook.com/notes/queensland-police-service/emergency-alert-issued-for-dalby-residents-thebigwetqldfloods/159601107421243 - Tuesday, 11 January 2011 at 20:22

    * All members of the community who live or are currently near the Brisbane River at West End are advised to move to higher ground. http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/australian-police-urge-brisbane-flood-evacuations-20110111-19m1s.html

    * Evacuation Centre set up - RNA Showgrounds, Bowen Hillshttp://www.facebook.com/notes/queensland-police-service/evacuation-centre-set-up-rna-showgrounds-bowen-hills-qldfloods-thebigwet/159557807425573 Evacuation Centre set up - RNA Showgrounds, Bowen Hills The Red Cross says it will be able to accommodate about 1,000 people.

    ** A Brisbane City Council statement said the centre had been set up for those who wanted to evacuate of their own accord and could not be accommodated with family or friends. Residents were advised to take their own pillows and sheets, medication, important documents and spare clothing. Pets are unable to be accommodated at the evacuation centre.http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/weather/100000-to-lose-power-supermarkets-bare-as-flooding-crisis-continues-20110110-19l56.html

    ** Evacuations began in Brisbane last night with the RNA Showgrounds expected to house up to 3000 people. Concerns were raised that this space would be insufficient and more than 6000 people would possibly need temporary accommodation.http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/brisbane-braces-for-the-worst-as-record-floodwaters-loom/story-e6freon6-1225985939905

    * Evacuation centre reported at Ipswich Showgrounds.http://kempsey.iprime.com.au/index.php/news/national-news/evacuations-under-way-across-southeast - more information needed

    * The Queensland flood crisis has triggered evacuations in the heart of Brisbane, amid [[http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/queensland-floods/police-warn-that-queensland-floods-death-toll-will-exceed-20/story-fn7iwx3v-1225985503963 reports]] that another five bodies have been found.

    * [http://www.facebook.com/pages/Queensland-Floods-Temporary-Accommodation-Help/100641316678419?v=wall Queensland Floods Temporary Accommodation Help] is a facebook group which contains offers of accomodation and contact details.

    * [http://www.facebook.com/notes/queensland-police-service/from-bom-severe-weather-warning-cancellation/159618004086220 Severe Weather Warning Cancellation] Heavy rain areas have eased during the past few hours and further flash flooding due to rainfall is no longer expected. - 11 January 2011 at 22:04

    =Affected Areas=

    * Bereau of Meteorology [http://www.bom.gov.au/qld/warnings/ Queensland Warning Summary] containing [http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/wrap_fwo.pl?IDQ20885.html flood warnings] for (at 7am, 12th January 2011):
    ** Fitzroy River
    ** Burnett River
    ** Mary River
    *

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