Saturday, 4 February 2012

Weather and water

Mark Twain has had many witty sayings attributed to him.  It appears that one of my personal favourites "Whisky is for drinking, water is for fighting over" is of dubious provenance.  Having got to thinking about quaint American (ab)users of language, some more are quoted at the end of this post.

An approach to one of the issues which may cause a stoush over water was covered in the TV series "Two Men in a Tinnie" featuring Tim Flannery and John Doyle (the latter aka sports guru "Rampaging" Roy Slaven) travelling down the Murray-Darling system in a small boat.  They made the point at several stops of the trip that people always hate things upstream for 'stealing our water'.  I will return to this, after dealing with recent weather and some history.

Weather, with a focus on rain
I recently posted about rainfall to late January in our area.  The following table continues for the same 4 stations:

Date Carwoola Airport Tuggeranong Braidwood  race course

4.4 0.2


30-Jan 21.5 16.2 32.8



3-Feb 21.0 24.2 22.6 24
4-Feb 11.7 11.2 6 3.2
It is noticeable that the falls are much more consistent than for earlier in the month.  I suspect this is because the weather systems in the periods were fronts, rather than thnuderstorms.  Note that in the 6 days from 30 January we , at Carwoola, had scored 54.2mm.

Recent History of water flows in Whiskers Creek
For the last few years I have been recording the level of flow in Whiskers Creek where it passes under our drive and reporting this the local Waterwatch project.  I use the set of codes shown in the table below with the terms chosen so that they sort reverse- alphabetically.  The assessment of the flow each day is done by us using eyes and ears and can thus be a bit 'rubbery' around the margins.

State of creek Days 
2010 2011
flood 12 3
heavy 71 45
light 99 145
trace 35 52
zero 123 77
absent 25 43

365 365
 This shows that 2011 was less extreme than 2010.  Less floods/heavy flow and less zeroes in the later year.  

Where flows  get interesting is that there has been no flow in the creek so far in 2012 - not even after 54mm of rain in 6 days.  A first thought is that this indicates how dry the soil had become with next to no rain in late December 2011 to late January 2012. 

Then we noticed that the other creek on our property was running on the morning of the 3rd of January.  This suggests that the various billabongs higher up Whiskers Creek must have dried up completely in the dry spell and were still not overflowing due to the run off.  The other Creek is a bit steeper and  - on our property at least has no billabongs.

So we get back to the complaint about upstream effects stopping the flows down lower! 

Weather forecasting
I have posted elsewhere about  the naff quality of the weather forecasts recently.  The effort for 10 February 2012 was egregiously wrong.  On 9 February this was saying Heavy rain offering 35 - 75mm.  By 6am on 10 February that had been revised to 15-30mm and we ended up scoring 5mm!  However the 5mm came in about 10 minutes and after it passed by gave a couple of nice images of the Eucalyptus mannifera against the dark clouds.

February 15 was a very pleasant day, although by early afternoon the clouds were building up over the hills.

A bit later in the day they delivered with a small storm: 8mm.  However the next morning there was heavy flow in the Creek and evidence of seriously heavy flow over night:
 Check the level of debris beside the pool.  Obviously all upstream billabongs etc must finally be full, and I suspect the storm must have dumped more in the headwaters.

Other quippers
In thinking about folk heroes other than Mark Twain who were good with a funny line it is not possible to ignore the poets (?) of baseball Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra.
  1. The former was better at convoluted logic but I was really taken with "The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided." 
  2. The latter was the king of malapropisms and non-sequitors. My favourite is "You should always go to other people's funerals, otherwise, they won't come to yours."

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