05 June, 2012

...and up she rises!

Following on from significant rainfall on the 25th of last month that saw drains through Geelong gushing water into the river and the average monthly rainfall figure almost doubled, the rain has come again. This time however, with winds blowing in from the south east, it has also affected large parts of the state leading to the worst flooding in decades in the east. And things are also on the rise in the Barwon catchment area too.
Rising waters: about 3pm, 5th June at Moorabool Street
In the hours from Sunday afternoon up to 9am this morning, a total of almost 54mm of rain fell on the lower reaches of the Barwon. This is according to the Bureau's rain gauge at the Geelong Show Grounds. My own gauge in the backyard less than 2km away recorded 69mm. Considering that the long term monthly average for the Geelong region - based on data from the old airport gauge at Grovedale - is a little over 42mm for June, this equates to a lot of water in a very short period of time.
Locally there was the usual havoc associated with such weather, but upstream where the headwaters of the Barwon rise in the Otways was where most of the deluge occurred. Although the Bureau doesn't appear to have an official gauge here, local measurements indicate that over this same period, 175mm of rain fell in this part of the Otways.
West bank of the Barwon from the old Breakwater Bridge about 3pm Tuesday
5th June. Water levels are definitely on the rise.
Not surprisingly, the river height at Ricketts Marsh soon reported flooding which peaked just above the major flood level at about 10pm last night. Whilst water levels there are now reported as falling, those of us downstream are waiting for the flow on effect. Although neither the Leigh or Moorabool Rivers have reported stream rises above flood levels - which would combine to have a much larger impact on the river height through Geelong - there is still expected to be some flooding of the lower Barwon. At this stage it is a matter of wait and see as to whether it will be minor or moderate and according to the Bureau a peak is expected some time either late today or early tomorrow morning.
...and by tomorrow it will be under water. The old Breakwater Bridge.
With this Barwon flood event, there is of course one thing which will be different and it is a timely change. In the past when river levels began to rise, traffic was traditionally thrown into chaos as the Breakwater Bridge invariably went under. And no doubt, the bridge will go under again this time too, however now that the new bridge is open this should no longer be an issue for the hundreds of vehicles which make the crossing on a daily basis.
As of about 9:30pm, water levels continue to rise and and are expected to peak through Geelong some time tomorrow. With a little timing and good luck I will be in the right place to take a few more watery shots for my next post.

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