Sunday, 09 December 2012 12:40
The wet season, which usually runs from January to late April, is the most beautiful time of year in North Queensland. During that period there is usually one, or sometimes two, very intense periods of rain when it pours, almost without let up, for 2-3 weeks. The rest of the time can have very sunny days with late afternoon storms or overnight rain. The landscape and the rainforest are at their best and gardens run rampant with lush growth.
Cairns average annual rainfall is 1992 mm and the average summer (wet season) temperature is 23C-31C. Temperatures can be far higher in other parts of Queensland and not feel so hot. It is the very high humidity which visitors find uncomfortable. Of course, we all have air-conditioned workplaces. For visitors on holiday, it is best to get out and about early in the day when it is cooler and less humid.
The periods of intense rainfall are always associated with a monsoon trough or a cyclone. In 30 years I have experienced at least half a dozen cyclones. Cyclones Winifred (category 3 in 1986), Larry (category 4 in 2006) and Yasi (category 4-5 in 2011) were the most memorable. Yasi was one of the largest cyclones recorded in Queensland with wind speeds estimated at up to 285 kilometres per hour. Despite the signs of bravado painted on some buildings "Kiss my Yasi!", it was an incredibly destructive cyclone costing billions of dollars in crop losses and damage to boats and buildings. As a phenomenon of nature, it is an experience that you will remember for ever.
Babida and Tully slug it out annually for the Golden Gumboot award as to which town has the highest rainfall. Babinda is probably the wettest overall. It has a 24 hour record of 48 inches (1219 mm) which is almost inconceivable - unless you have lived in North Queensland for a while.