The Castlereagh River creeps towards one of the last major bends on the stretch into Coonamble on sunset on Thursday afternoon. PHOTO Brian Campbell.
THE EXCITING and unpredictable weather continues, with Coonamble experiencing a torrential downpour and high winds on the afternoon of Monday 17 February.
The storm, which had seemed to be brewing for much of the day brought with it winds up of to 122kilometres per hour, dust and even hail in the Quambone area.
The Coonamble State Emergency Services (SES) crew topped the state for the number of jobs attended over the 24 hour period as the storm passed through.
Deputy Commander John (Tiny) Lewis said that two SES teams involving 11 volunteers attended 22 jobs.
A house at Pine Vale on the Pilliga Road occupied by Karl Becker, his wife and two sons, lost its roof.
“The wind was that strong it blew off the roof and pulled the cladding off one side of the house,” Mr Lewis said.
In Dubbo Street, Coonamble they attended a call where airborne debris had broken through windows and in Charles Street a large limb crushed the beams in a roof and started leaking water.
At the Hub building on the corner of Warrena and Namoi Streets, a box gutter overflowed and inundated the staff kitchen and the beautician room, leaving the floors awash.
“We finished the town jobs and went to Pine Vale and were back in town by about 2.30am,” Mr Lewis said.
“We’ve been back on duty since 9am and once people finish work we’ll be back at it cleaning up trees and branches.”
The wild weather also saw many parts of the district lose power from about 3pm, bringing an early closing to many businesses while crews worked to repair the damage.
While they successfully reconnected most areas well before midnight, some areas further east of Coonamble were still without power the next morning.
After a dry weekend, the Coonamble Airport recorded 68.6 mm of rain in the 24 hours from 9am Monday, with most of that falling in less than an hour on Monday afternoon.
Humidity was still at 94% on Tuesday morning with more showers and the possibility of a severe storm on Tuesday afternoon.
These latest storms should also bring another fresh in the Castlereagh River after it rose last week for the first time in many months.
The first wash saw rain around Tooraweenah, Mendooran and Gilgandra fill local creeks to kickstart a flow in the river that came through Gilgandra on Tuesday night 11 February but it was slow going.
It took until 10pm on Thursday for the water to reach the Combara Bridge, including around 7 hours to make to make the last 10-15 kilometres.
There was no guarantee that the river would even make Coonamble as the water gradually filled metres of dry sand along its length and topped up the few remaining sub-surface pools.
A further rise came after more local rain on Wednesday 12 February and it eventually made the Coonamble township in the pre-dawn hours of Friday 14 February.
Tony (Nugget) Millstead, who has lived says that after 68 years of living on the river’s bank at Combara he can spot the difference in the water.
“The local water is really muddy,” Mr Millstead said. “From further up past Gilgandra its a very orangey red colour.”
Mr Millstead said he noticed a lot of froth on the water at about 4pm on Thursday afternoon, indicating a rise between Gilgandra and Combara.
“If that hadn’t happened it might not have made Coonamble,” he said. “It’s very good though, it’s filled up.”
“When the water is from Gilgandra it lasts a bit longer.”
With Monday’s storm covering a larger area, a further rise in the river can be expected.
The storm also brought long-awaited falls in areas east and north east of Coonamble that had missed out over the past month.
David Strudwick, on the Pilliga Road reported 70mm and Brian and Donna Ditchfield recorded 48mm at their property Newlands on the Billeroy Road in their first decent fall this year as well as 42mm at ‘Brolga’ on the Willow Downs Road.
Gerard Barrett reported a total of 78mm at ‘Williga’ off the Killara Lane in three separate storms from Sunday night through to Monday night.
Bill Fisher reported 40-46mm at ‘Coorawong’ in the Teridgerie area while his cousin Paul Fisher measured 38mm yesterday to bring his February total to 155mm.
Near Quambone the Garnseys recorded 31mm for Monday bringing their total to 162mm and on the opposite side of the Shire Alexander Deans saw 37mm with 75mm over the past ten days.
Near Gulargambone Colin Ryan reports 32mm and Adam and Rowena Macrae measured 50mm out towards Wingadee but are not sure if it makes up for the tree damage to Rowena’s vehicle inflicted by falling limbs outside the Hub on Monday afternoon.