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15 April 2011

Flood Inquiry: Bureau of Meteorology grilled by Ipswich City Council

 

A LAWYER representing Ipswich City Council has grilled the Bureau of Meteorology's (BoM) Queensland chief on the warnings issued ahead of January's floods.

A view from North Station Rd, North Booval, shows the impact of floodwaters that hit Ipswich.

 

A LAWYER representing Ipswich City Council has grilled the Bureau of Meteorology's (BoM) Queensland chief on the warnings issued ahead of January's floods.

Peter Flanagan, for Ipswich City Council, asked Mr Davidson why the BoM's flood warnings for the Bremer River changed dramatically during January 11.

BoM regional director Jim Davidson has told the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry his staff worked in a considered, calculated way on January 11, when floodwaters were headed for the cities of Brisbane and Ipswich.

The inquiry has heard how engineers in charge of Wivenhoe Dam were in discussions with the BoM on making huge dam releases under a strategy known as W4, where saving the dam structure took priority over flooding homes.

Mr Flanagan asked whether the BoM was coming under "greater pressure" on January 11 because of the dam releases.

"In the course of seven-and-a-half hours the prediction from the bureau in fact increased from 12.7 metres through to 22 metres," he said.

Mr Davidson referred questions about modelling to his chief hydrologist, saying he took part in teleconferences about the floods but didn't communicate directly with the dam engineers.

"I was certainly aware of the significance of the releases that were being discussed at the time," he said.

The Bremer River peaked at 19.4 metres on January 12, lower than the 22 metre warning of January 11, flooding more than 3000 homes.

Earlier, Mr Davidson told the inquiry that in his 40 years of forecasting, he had never seen an upper low with the magnitude he saw ahead of January's deluge.

By invitation, he gave a first ever briefing to state cabinet in October 2010 on the possible dangers of the season.

"In my time as regional director that is the most explicit we've been in a briefing," Mr Davidson said.

He also explained the BoM did not have the capacity to issue flash flood warnings, after much public criticism was levelled at authorities for the lack of warning before the "inland tsunami" that hit Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley on January 10.

More Ipswich News: www.QT.com.au

 

 

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