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Weather News - When will my beach look normal again

Tristan Meyers, 25 April 2015

People in New South Wales are still recovering from the storm that lashed eastern regions of the state last week, but the question on everyone's lips is "where did my beach go"?

Beaches are dynamic places that frequently undergo erosion events, such as the storm that occurred last week. Erosion events are characterised by a sustained period of larger than usual wave height. Last week, an offshore wave buoy in Sydney recorded a wave that was 14 metres in height - that's about as large as a four storey building!

The energy of these waves scrapes the sand off the beach profile, and moves it further out to the sea. Generally, the sand collects at a certain point further offshore, a point called the "depth of closure".

During calm periods, the sand is reworked onshore from the depth of closure. The width of the beach (the length from the dunes to the water) will then widen. This process is known as accretion. After a storm event it can take several months, or even years for a beach to return to normal under natural processes.

But not to worry! Many beaches around New South Wales undergo sand nourishment. Sand is physically dumped on beaches in order to protect coastal properties from being swallowed by the sea. This practice is common in the northern beaches of Sydney and in Port Stephens.

Residents around Bondi and Coogee also noticed that the sand that was on the beach has begun to collect far behind the beach, reaching parks and streets during the storm. As the sand was transported with the gusty gales, the beach adjusted to the high energy of the wind by retreating further inland. Basically, these parks and streets became active sand dunes!

Although the time will vary between beaches (and is still an active area of scientific research), we should see beaches with nourishment plans return to normal within a few months.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2015

Weather News - Canberra settling into calmer weather

Kim Westcott, 26 April 2015

Yesterday, spectacular storms rumbled throughout the ACT and surrounds, but calmer weather is around the corner.

Within a 100km radius of Canberra there was close to 38,000 strikes recorded, although the heavy line of storms mainly missed Canberra itself.

While the lightning was plentiful, the rain was sparse. The highest amount was recorded at Bendora Dam, which saw 11mm hit the bucket. Under the cloud, showers and storms, the temperature plummeted with Canberra dropping five degrees in the space of 40 minutes.

A low pressure trough that brought the rumbles throughout NSW has now moved offshore, and a large high pressure system will take it's place for most of this week. Under the high, we can expect the reasonably clear skies which will combine with a cool airmass. As a result it will make for some very cold mornings. Based on the current forecast, Canberra is set to average four-to-five degrees over this week, with Monday morning likely to be the coldest of the lot.

Daytime temperatures will also remain stable across this week, hovering in the low-to-mid teens, which will be three-to-four degrees below average for this time of year. Umbrellas will be required for the later part of the week, as a trough develops in the east, bring further showers to the capital.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2015

Weather News - Hailstorm transforms Sydney from summer to winter

Tristan Meyers, 26 April 2015

A hail storm barged through Sydney yesterday afternoon, bringing 1-2 cenimetre-sized pellets and heavy downpours, effectively turning summer into winter.

It was a beautiful autumn day as Sydney warmed quickly under blue skies. A top of 26 degrees was felt, four degrees above the April average and close to the summer average.

However, ominous anvil clouds began to tower in the west around 1pm when a pool of colder air approached and combined with warm, muggy air on the ground. At about 4pm, the skies began to darken and the heavens opened. Canterbury collected over 13mm in just 10 minutes, while the city picked up around six millimetres in the same amount of time.

Temperatures plummeted by as much as 10 degrees in one hour, chilling to about 13 degrees in some suburbs, cold even for winter.

Hail, about the size of a five cent coin, began belting the Sydney Basin. The hail lasted around 30 minutes for some areas. Pirtek Stadium had to postpone the A-League as the green was transformed into a snow-white icy field. The Anzac Day NRL match had to be halted. The Roosters and Dragons were taken off field while fans sought out shelter in the bleachers of the stadium.

A few residents around Maroubra gave up on their sandcastles and made the best of the wild weather by constructing snowmen, or rather "hailmen", using laundry pegs for the noses and arms.

Earlier that morning, Sydney-siders who were awake or attending the Dawn Service would have noticed a beautiful red glow emanating from the horizon as the sun began to rise. In retrospect, this was an omen of things to come; "Red at night, sailor's delight. Red in the morning, sailor's warning".

Although this seems like an old wives tale, there is actually some truth to this. The colour of the sky is largely based on how light scatters when the sun hits particles in the atmosphere. Usually, blue is the most dominant colour that is reflected. However, during the morning and evening, the sun is at a low angle, not directly above your head. When red light is reflected during the ascent or decent of the sun, it means that the atmosphere is "loaded" with moisture and dust particles - two of the ingredients required for storms.

So, if you're ever awake and looking at the sun rise - keep an eye out for the tinge of the sky. It could be a sign of weather systems moving in from the west.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2015