A Climatology of Heavy Rain and Major Flood Events in Victoria 1876-2019 and the Effect of the 1976 Climate Shift


  • Jeff Callaghan Retired Bureau of Meteorology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia




An extensive search has been carried out to find all major flood and very heavy rainfall events in Victoria since 1876 when Southern Oscillation (SOI) data became available. The synoptic weather patterns were analysed and of the 319 events studied,121 events were found to be East Coast Lows (ECLs) and 82 were other types of low-pressure systems. Tropical influences also played a large role with 105 events being associated with tropical air advecting down to Victoria into weather systems. Examples are presented of all the major synoptic patterns identified. The SOI was found to be an important climate driver with positive SOIs being associated with many events over the 144 years studied. The 1976 Climate Shift and its influence on significant Victorian rainfall events is studied and negative SOI monthly values were shown to dominate following the Shift.However,one of the most active periods in 144 years of Victorian heavy rain occurred after the shift with a sustained period of positive SOI events from 2007 to 2014. Therefore, it is critical for forecasting future Victorian heavy rainfall is to understand if sequences of these positive SOI events continue like those preceding the Shift. Possible relationships between the Shift and Global Temperature rises are also explored. Upper wind data available from some of the heaviest rainfall events showed the presence of anticyclonic turning of the winds between 850hPa and 500hPa levels which has been found to be linked with extreme rainfall around the Globe. 


Low pressure systems, Tropical interaction, Warm air advection, Southern oscillation index


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How to Cite

Callaghan, J. (2021). A Climatology of Heavy Rain and Major Flood Events in Victoria 1876-2019 and the Effect of the 1976 Climate Shift. Journal of Geographical Research, 4(3), 12–33. https://doi.org/10.30564/jgr.v4i3.3204


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