September Synoptic Summary

The synoptic situation in the first week of spring was complicated by a small high in the Tasman Sea rapidly moving east, a cold front moving rapidly east over western Australia and A trough extending from the gulf down to northern NSW. This left stable atmosphere over Queensland east coast. resulting in a dew point to give a daily precipitation of 0.2mm and a maximum daily temperature a half a degree above the norm.

In the second week of the month the high in the Tasman intensified bringing a strong maritime flow of moist winds over our shoreline and showers adding up to over 8.0mm. Similar conditions prevailed in the third week with maritime showers adding up to 25mm.

A dry following week in the final stages of being a dry stable month, before a synoptic change brought a kerfuffle of high and surface troughs combining over east Queensland resulting in some fierce thunderstorms with hail. Total rainfall for the month was 60.2mm, three degrees under the 120 years average.

Climatological Summary for September 1915 -2014

Sept Climate 191522015

September 2015 Summary

Sept 2015 Stats

Forecast to October 9

Fcast to 9.10.15

Weather Satellite over Australia is up and working

The Bureau of Meteorology has made near real-time imagery from the Japanese Himawari-8 satellite available to the public from today via its new web viewer. Himawari-8 is currently the most advanced dedicated weather satellite in the world.

Bureau Director and CEO Dr Rob Vertessy said the benefits are enormous.

“Himawari-8 is one giant leap in satellite meteorology: it’s like switching from black and white TV to high definition colour in one jump. Or you could compare it to switching from the grainy images of the silent era to IMAX. You can see unfolding weather in detail we’ve only dreamed of in the past. But it’s more than just eye-candy for our forecasters.

“Himawari-8 generates about 50 times more data than the previous satellite. Our forecasters now have access to 16 observation wavebands that capture important detail from many layers of the atmosphere.

“Previously we received a satellite image just once every hour, now we get a detailed scan of our part of the globe every 10 minutes. It brings the conditions on earth to life.

“Combined with the coming upgrade to our supercomputer, Himawari-8 is a game changer. Weather computer models ingest data and extrapolate to provide a forecast. The better the data we put in, the better the forecast that comes out.

“Our forecasters are now starting to make use of the vast quantity of new data. One of the most immediate benefits is the ability to see storms as they develop. We expect to see continual growth in our use of the data over the coming years,” he said.

Jamie Briggs, Minister for Cities and the Built Environment, attended the launch on behalf of the Australian community. Japan’s Ambassador to Australia, Mr Sumio Kusaka, attended as Japan’s representative.

Dr Vertessy expressed gratitude to the Japan Meteorological Agency for making the data from Himawari-8 freely available to Australia.

“There is a wonderful tradition of global cooperation in meteorology. The Japan Meteorological Agency is making a big investment in Himawari-8, close to a billion Australian dollars, and the Australian community can share the benefits. We are extremely grateful for the excellent relationship we have with our counterparts in Japan,” he said.

The public can view Himawari-8’s images via the Bureau’s web viewer, which will go through a period of testing, feedback and improvement after the initial release today. The viewer can be found on the Bureau’s website:

“This is a great day for the Bureau of Meteorology and all Australians who have an interest in weather. Now everyone can benefit, both by seeing the weather as it unfolds in fantastic detail and through the improved services it will enable,” Dr Vertessy said.

“Life on Mars”


The streaks, which appear on slopes during warm seasons, lengthen and then fade during cooler seasons, were recorded by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

“This is a very important finding, which really increases the likelihood of habitable micro-environments existing on Mars,” says Mars Society president Dr Jon Clarke.

On Earth water is an essential ingredient for biological organisms and, if life does exist on Mars, it is most likely to be found in association with liquid water.

Confirmed evidence of even seasonal running water on the surface would demonstrate there are local aquifers or some other kind of water table source where life could shelter, protected from the harsh radiation and low temperatures of the fourth planet from the sun.

Scientists previously thought that there was no direct evidence for liquid water near the surface to flow out and that, if it did ever breach the surface, it was too cold and the atmosphere too thin for it to persist long enough to flow: the water would rapidly either instantly freeze or sublimate.

“The key finding by NASA is that any observed running water probably contains dissolved salts, which lower its freezing temperature, thus allowing it to remain liquid on the surface long enough to flow,” says Mars Society director Guy Murphy.

As hardy microbes on Earth, called halophytes, thrive in conditions of extreme salinity, scientists are not ruling out the idea that unusual microbes survive under the harsh Martian conditions.

“This is the first time we’ve confirmed flowing water outside of Earth,” says Swinburne University astrophysicist Alan Duffy. “The find supports our search for life on Mars as, to put it simply, where there’s water there’s life.”

Mars watchers believe that, during the summer months, ice beneath the planet’s surface dust is melted and rises as a brine that then flows down slopes.

“The entire flow might only be a few centimetres deep – but this would darken the soil enough for instruments to observe this from space,” Dr Duffy says.

Unfortunately, there’s no craft nearby that can test the soils. “So, proving that life is there is going to take longer,” Dr Duffy notes. “But if NASA really has found flowing water, then at least we know where to search for life – whatever shape it might take.”

“Once in a Blue Moon”

 Since 1910, a supermoon lunar eclipse has only happened five times, NASA reported. The last time was in 1982 and you won’t have another chance to see one until 2033. What makes this event special is that it’s occurred while the moon is at its closest point to the Earth, a stage in its orbit called perigee. This is 31,000 miles closer to the Earth than at the farthest point in the moon’s orbit, called an apogee. While this was happening, there was also a lunar eclipse where the Earth comes between the sun and the moon, causing the Earth’s shadow to cover the moon. This gave the moon a beautiful dark reddish, coppery colour.


Rising Sea Threat To Pacific Islands


Pacific Islanders are challenging world leaders to act on climate change, warning that their low-lying atolls are close to becoming uninhabitable because of rising seas and increasingly severe floods, droughts and storm surges.

Climate change has already arrived,” said Christopher Loeak, president of the Marshall Islands, The Marshall Islands, a group of 29 atolls and coral islands standing on average only two metres above sea level, and lying halfway between Australia and Hawaii, is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Earlier this year the president declared a state of emergency following a simultaneous drought and some of the worst floods ever experienced. A freak tide nearly destroyed the capital Majuro, breaching its sea walls and flooding the airport runway. The drought left 6,000 people surviving on less than one litre of water per day.

Many other small island Pacific “microstates”, including the Solomons, Tuvaluand the Carteret Islands, have all suffered rapid erosion, higher tides, storm surges and inundation of wells with seawater. Earlier this year Kiribati’s president, Anote Tong, predicted his country was likely to become uninhabitable between 30 and 60 years from now because of inundation and contamination of its freshwater supplies. Many of its outer islands are being invaded by the sea and people are flocking to the capital, South Tarawa. The state has plans to buy 2,000 hectares of land in Fiji to grow food for itself and possibly to act as a new island home.


People of Interest

John “Stokesy” Stokes

Radio Broadcaster

1959 – 2014

Recently a friend and I were chatting and reminiscing about people who stood out in our minds.

One such person for me was John Stokes legend ABC Queensland broadcaster who died last year after battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma disease for a number of years. He has finally hung up his headphones after a career lasting 30 years

John was very big on relationships and nobody ever had anything negative to say about him. He was always positive and a joy to be with where ever he went.

In a rash moment John had a bet with his ABC colleagues’ he would walk backwards the 30km from Kenilworth to Kandanga for his favourite charity Club Chemo if the then federal environmental minister Peter Garrett rejected the Queensland Government’s bid to build the Traveston Crossing Dam, near Gympie. The dam was not built and John honoured his bet by completing the course to the charity’s advantage.

John, known to many as ‘Stokesy’ was a good friend of the Maleny Weather Station.  For many years I broadcast with John a daily weather message, and a monthly climate summary on the last Friday morning of each month.

Editor – Patrick Stacey

Maleny Climate for August 2015


There was very little rainfall until near the end of the month and it would have been classified a ‘dry’ month had there not been a storm on the last day when we recorded an inch of rain. This amount, with the odd shower or two recorded in the latter half of the month, brought the total for the month to 73.4 mm, representing 10 mm above the average over 110 years.

With the El Niño stronger and with the forecast it will be as strong as the 1997/98 episode it is more than likely we will have a few drier months ahead. In 1997 the El Niño started in June and continued until October 1998 – seventeen months with below average rainfalls. An official drought was declared in many parts of Queensland but we were lucky as on the Ranges  we enjoyed a few maritime showers.


Maleny’s Mean Daily Temperature for the month was 20.5 this was 0.3degrees above average. Highest temperature was 25.1 on the penultimate day of the month. The highest temperature ever recorded was in 2009 with 31.6°C

Minimum temperature this month was 4.5°C – the lowest ever was in 2003 with 3.2°C


The phenomenon of the month was an earthquake on Saturday 1st with a magnitude of 5.7. Many people felt the shock but no structural damage was reported.