The so-called Bundaberg dome has burst with the city set to record its wettest November since 1934. 

Key points:

  • Flash flooding has cut roads and dams are overflowing after record rainfall across parts of Bundaberg
  • Farmers rejoice despite delays to sugar cane harvest
  • Another weather system is expected to bring more rain on Friday and Saturday

Localised flash flooding has cut roads, dams are overflowing, and parts of the Wide Bay Burnett have already received triple their monthly rainfall average.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Falem Hanniffy said almost a month’s worth of rain fell in a single day in Bundaberg on Monday.

Green cane plants submerged under muddy rain water with dark clouds in the background

A flooded cane field after nearly a month’s worth of rain fell in one day.(ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)

Moore Park Beach, just north of Bundaberg, received a 24-hour total of 201 millimetres last week.

Locals often refer to the “Bundaberg dome” as the area that always misses out on significant rain.

The record books show some of the wettest November totals were received in the 1970s, but it was the Bundaberg Post Office that listed 353mm in 1934. 

Keen weather watcher Darryl Hampson from Bundaberg said only 18mm needed to fall in the next week to break the 87-year-old record. 

In contrast, the November 2020 total was only 1mm.

Farmers rejoice

Skye Douglas, a beef farmer in the South Burnett, said they had been desperate for the rain.

“Our big dam that hadn’t had any runoff since 2013 is now full and overflowing. It’s fabulous,” she said.

“The property is green, lush, and the grass is growing high.

“Things are really promising and the rain means that we don’t need to sell any cattle for quite some time.”

woman stands with two dogs on a field with rolling green hills in the background

South Burnett beef farmer Skye Douglas says the need for rain had been drastic.(ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)

The Chairman of Bundaberg Canegrowers, Mark Pressler, said the rain would delay the harvest but the majority of Bundaberg growers were happy.

“The cane that’s standing has taken a bit of a hit with the CCS sugar content but it’s still very millable.

“Harvesting has come to a standstill at the moment. It has been enough to close the mills until at least next week.”

Growers hope the paddocks will dry to wrap up the crush by mid-December.

a man wearing a faded blue shirt stands in a vast cane field

Mark Pressler says canegrowers were happy with the wet weather.(ABC Wide Bay: Stephanie Doole)

“There’s approximately 60,000 tonnes left in the Bundaberg area that is still millable,” Mr Pressler said.

“The rain has been most welcome in recharging our Sunwater irrigation scheme.

The widespread rainfall caused Paradise Dam to overflow, prompting Sunwater to increase irrigator allocations to 100 per cent. 

More rain on the way

The weather bureau declared a La Niña event earlier this week, which is expected to dump more rain across the state this summer than usual.

Flooded roads.

Roads have been cut by floodwaters across the Wide Bay Burnett this week.( ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)

Mr Hanniffy said another weather system was expected later this week, bringing more heavy rain on Friday and early Saturday.

“You’re looking at anywhere from 10-30 millimetres, but you could have some isolated falls of 50 and 60 millimetres, especially with storm activity.”

It is too early to tell if the rainfall will be drought-breaking for the Bundaberg region, but Mr Hanniffy said it had helped soil moisture levels.

“It’s essentially gone back to zero, or almost near-saturated, so any further rainfall will either flow straight into the catchments or sit around,” he said.

Posted , updated 

Record rainfall in the Wide Bay signals the start of La Niña
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