From floods to fire as weather records tumble

AFTER a dry, hot and windy start to January 2013, with average top temperatures of 30 degress and bushfires that burnt more than 12,000 hectares of land across the shire, more than 94 millimetres of rain has fallen since Saturday, bringing back memories of floods that threatened homes last year.

With a torrential downpour on Australia Day bringing 68 mm of rain, what was one of Cooma's driest January months quickly became the wettest since 1999 with a total of 103.8mm recorded so far this year.

It follows on from one of the wettest years on record.

Rainfall records tumbled in 2012. February and March were the wettest on record and Cooma was put on high alert for potential flooding of homes.

In February a number of businesses at Polo Flat were inundated with flood water including the Bocce Club and Air Rifle Club as 285.3 mm of rain fell- the highest ever for February.

As the rain continued, the record for the highest rainfall in March was broken with 175.9mm for the month.

The heavy rainfall resulted in large amounts of water in the Cooma Creek that runs through town and close to homes.

A stream of water that usually trickles turned into a torrent of water.

Members of the State Emergency Service door knocked homes close to the Cooma Creek and Cooma Back Creek where it was feared levees would break and water would flood homes.

Sandbags were made available and used by some businesses along Sharp Street and the surrounding streets and some residents packed their cars with important belongings and evacuated to higher ground.

The water came high, but in the end the water receded.

Steady rainfall throughout the rest of the year saw Cooma record its second highest annual rainfall total.

A total of 818.5mm of rain fell in 2012, shy of the highest recorded in Cooma in 1974 of 842.9mm.

The extreme rainfall was not the only unique weather event last year.

While NSW ski resorts recorded some of the best snowfall in eight years, in August snowflakes fell in Cooma and the surrounding area.

It was light and cleared up quickly in Cooma but in areas such as Nimmitabel and Dalgety it was heavier.

At the end of winter, it snowed again in Cooma but only briefly.

Then there were the 'tornados'.

One was believed to have formed near Bredbo in January while another was witnessed by a Cooma resident in February. The Bureau of Meteorology said it was most likely a funnel cloud which is similar to a tornado does not touch the ground whereas a tornado does.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Annual Climate Statement for 2012 found that extreme rainfall in the southeast in the first quarter saw the third wettest March on record for Australia, and second wettest for New South Wales.

Looking ahead to February, March and April the Bureau is predicting cooler days and nights, and a drier season likely for parts of southeast Australia.

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