Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

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Update from the Bureau of Meteorology


Issued Saturday 30 December 2023

The thoughts of everybody at the Bureau of Meteorology are with all those individuals, families, businesses and communities impacted by recent severe weather right across Australia.

The Bureau welcomes the initiative of the Minister for Emergency Management, Senator the Hon. Murray Watt to bring together all participants in the Australian Warning System to discuss enhancements in the communication of warnings to the Australian community.

The Australian Warning System is used by state and territory emergency management agencies. The Australian Warning System is a new approach being implemented by state and territory emergency management agencies. The Bureau does not issue Australian Warning System warnings. As part of the Australian Warning System, the Bureau works closely with emergency management agencies and all levels of government to provide expert insights and severe weather information.

The Bureau does not issue forecasts and warnings by text message. State and territory emergency management agencies, and in some cases local councils and insurance companies deliver warnings by text message for hazards that may impact a community. The Bureau has no say in the content of these message and when they are sent.

The Bureau of Meteorology also wishes to address recent commentary regarding the timeliness and accuracy of forecasts and warnings issued in the lead up to and during the severe weather experienced in southeast Queensland on Christmas and Boxing Day.

The Bureau consistently warned communities of the risk of severe thunderstorms many days in advance of the thunderstorm outbreak event that took place in southeast Queensland on 25 and 26 December 2023.

The Bureau first communicated the likelihood of an outbreak of severe thunderstorms on Christmas and Boxing Day on Friday 22 December. These messages highlighted the risk of damaging winds, large hail, intense rainfall and flash flooding and were repeated every day from Sunday 24 December through to Tuesday 26 December.

The Bureau provided 12 formal briefings to emergency management agencies between 22 December and 25 December. These briefings were sent every morning to local disaster management groups . In Queensland, local disaster management groups are chaired by the relevant Mayor.

The Bureau also issued a Weekend Weather Outlook video on Friday 22 December and a Severe Weather video and Video News Release on Sunday 24 December.

The Bureau worked closely with emergency management agencies prior to and during the period of severe weather to keep the community informed and extensively communicated its warnings and forecasts via the Bureau's website, BOM Weather app, through print, broadcast and social media.

The Bureau continued to update its forecasts, warnings and advice to communities and emergency services agencies as new information became available.

On Monday 25 December:

  • Severe thunderstorm warnings were current for Queensland for 93% of the day.
  • Severe thunderstorms escalated quickly across the state from 4:00 pm AEST.
  • The Queensland Southeast Coast district was in warnings from 5:09 pm AEST and Gold Coast explicitly in Detailed Severe Thunderstorm Warnings from 7:49 pm AEST.
  • Detailed Severe Thunderstorm Warnings for Scenic Rim and Gold Coast were escalated to 'Very Dangerous Thunderstorm' including giant hailstones at 7:56 pm AEST.
  • Detailed severe thunderstorm warnings for Scenic Rim and Gold Coast with 'Very Dangerous Thunderstorm' were further escalated to include destructive wind gusts at 8:40 pm AEST.
  • This warning provided 1 hour and 23 minutes lead time prior to the highest recorded wind gusts at Gold Coast Seaway (106km/h at 9:12 pm AEST).
  • Subsequent detailed severe thunderstorm warnings were updated on average every 17 mins to adequately update the status, location and track of the severe thunderstorms.
  • Severe thunderstorm warnings were cancelled at 10:19 pm AEST.

On Tuesday 26 December:

  • Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for damaging winds, large hail and heavy rainfall at 1:19 pm AEST, for an area extending from Mackay to Brisbane, including the Central Highlands and Coalfields. The warning was updated at 2:06 pm AEST extending it to Cleveland, and then at 2:41 pm AEST to extend the warning to the NSW border.
  • At 1:26 pm AEST, the first detailed warning was issued for the Moreton Bay region, for damaging winds, large hailstones and heavy rainfall.
  • Thereafter detailed warnings continued throughout the day, before being cancelled at 8:36 pm AEST. A total of 22 detailed severe thunderstorm warnings were issued.
  • Detailed warnings were updated on average every 19.5 minutes to provide the public and emergency services with the latest information - including location, track and hazards of severe thunderstorms.
  • At 4:21 pm AEST warnings were escalated to include ‘Very Dangerous Thunderstorms’ for locally destructive winds and giant hailstones about the western Wide Bay & Burnett, southern Central Highlands & Coalfields and northern Darling Downs & Granite Belt.
  • Detailed warnings for very dangerous thunderstorms through the Gympie region were issued from 6:29 pm AEST, with the inclusion of destructive winds and giant hail and heavy rainfall.
  • Warnings were contracted from the southeast coast at 7:46 pm AEST.
  • Warnings contracted to the northern Wide Bay & Burnett, Capricornia and Central Highlands & Coalfields at 10:02 pm.
  • Warnings for severe thunderstorms were current from 1:19 pm AEST, through to 2:18 am AEST Wednesday. A total of 12 hours and 59 minutes.

With further severe weather forecast for parts of eastern Australia for the final weekend of 2023, the Bureau of Meteorology is urging the community to refer to the BOM Weather app and website for the latest forecasts and warnings.