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Media Release
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage Federal Member for Flinders
Greg Hunt MP

3 February 2005

Much more than four seasons in one day

Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology today said Victoria's weather record will need a new chapter following unprecedented weather in the past 24 hours.

"Victoria has experienced extreme weather during the last 24 hours with all time rainfall records tumbling, very cold temperatures for this time of the year and very strong winds," Mr Hunt said.

"The combination of the rain and the winds has caused widespread damage across the state with much of it being reported in Melbourne.

"As well as conditions being severe over the land, extreme conditions have been observed over coastal waters with 12.5 metre waves being recorded at Point Nepean, and the Port Phillip Heads impassable due to high seas on an outgoing tide.

Mr Hunt said this very unusual weather was caused by a very deep low pressure system that was triggered by very cold air from the deep southern ocean interacting with warm relatively moist air over the continent.

"The low developed and deepened almost right over the top of Melbourne and was close to stationary for a 24 hour period. That is why the rainfall totals were so extreme," Mr Hunt said.

"Wednesday was the 8th coldest February day on record with the maximum temperature being 15.5 compared to the previous record of 14.7 which was recorded on the 18 th  February 1951.

"The 24 hour rainfall total of 120.2mm was the highest ever recorded compared to 108mm which was recorded on the 20 th January 1963.

"This is almost 3 times the February average rainfall of 47.0mm, and nearly 19% of the annual rainfall and 23% of the annual rainfall for the entire event which started on the previous day.

"It is not unusual to get severe thunderstorms which can bring extreme local rain in February, but this time the rainfall was steady and continuous for a period of 31 hours until it finally stopped at 8am this morning, an exceptionally long period of continuous rain for any time of the year."

Media enquiries:
Fiona Murphy (Mr Hunt's office) 0423 577 045

Commonwealth of Australia