98mm of rain during weekend deluge in Parkes

Instead of dry, hot weather we’re used to seeing to kickstart the summer season, Parkes residents experienced heavy downpours and flash flooding.

From a section of the Newell Highway looking like a little lake to garbage bins floating down the main street – these are just some of the scenes Parkes residents witnessed on Saturday.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) recorded 98.2mm of rain fell in Parkes between 6pm Friday and 8am Sunday – almost twice the monthly rainfall average for December (53.3mm).

Organisers of the Christmas Street Parade – that was due to take place at 6pm on Friday – were forced to cancel the event due to the predicted heavy downpours for Friday night and Saturday.

The markets and movie night in Cooke Park that usually followed the street parade were also cancelled, as was day two of Forbes’ Vanfest.

While the BOM found that more rain fell before 9am on Saturday (55.2mm) in Parkes, 43mm was recorded for the rest of the day and overnight.

The BOM rain gauge went from 6.6mm at 3.14am to 15.8mm 16 minutes later, was 36.4mm at 6.20am and 46.6mm by 6.42am.

More rain had fallen in 15 hours (6pm Friday to 9am Saturday) than it had for all of December last year in Parkes, with the 2016 total being 54.8mm.

Saturday afternoon was nearly as heavy with 16.6mm recorded at 11.30am, climbing to 31.4mm at 1.30pm and 40.4mm by 6pm.

As the downpours came, so too did the flash flooding – with Clarinda Street, the Newell Highway on both sides of the rail line, the Newell Highway at Tichborne, and the rail line in East Street all experiencing flooding.

There was a road accident on the Newell Highway at Tichborne, all of the Parkes Shire’s unsealed roads were closed to heavy vehicles, Eugowra Road was closed at the Billabong Creek crossing and the Parkes Airport was closed to all services until the situation was reviewed at 3pm Saturday.

According to the BOM, it’s the most rain Parkes has seen in a 48-hour period for a December since the record-breaking downpours in 2010.

This weekend’s weather event occurred at almost the same time as the December 2010 event, with 105.6mm falling on December 3 (the highest on record for a December day) and a further 21mm on December 4.

The December rainfall total for that year was 239.4mm.