Inquest into Dungog Superstorm deaths 2015: Day three

Colin Webb, Robin Macdonald and Brian Wilson died during the superstorm that hit Dungog on April 21, 2015. An inquest into their deaths began at Newcastle Courthouse on August 29, 2015.The severity of a storm cell that dumped 166.8mm of rain on Dungog within two hours could not have been predicted, a court has heard.


Representatives from the Bureau of Meteorology gave evidence on the third day of an inquest into three deaths that occurred during the2015superstorm.

Colin Webb, 79, Brian Wilson, 72, and Robin Macdonald, 68, died at their homes – within a street of each other – in Dungog during the natural disaster on the morning of April 21.

The court heard on Wednesdaythat a blanket of rainfall reached from Penrith to Taree during the weather event.

BoM state and territory manager for NSW/ACT Ann Farrell said the superstorm was “a broad scale event”.

The court heard that acomplex weathersystem with intense rain appeared over Dungog at about 5am, before major flooding occurred in the town.

“Very strong, destructive winds were recorded with this event as well as intense, widespread rainfall,” Ms Farrellsaid.

She showed the court data thatconfirmedthe most intense rainfall hit Dungog within about an hour of when Mr Webb, Ms Macdonald and Mr Wilson were found dead.

Bureau of Meteorology experts giving evidence: storm was “broad scale event” @newcastleherald

— Nick Bielby (@nickbielby) August 30, 2017 Rising water: Dungog resident Rob van Valen shows the floodwater mark on the wall of his home on April 22, 2015, the day after superstorm hit. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

BoM flood expert Jeff Perkins said modeling for weather systems was initially based on forecasts and there was a degree of uncertainty.

But, he said, as the bureau put recorded rainfall into its modelling during the given weather event,that uncertainty would decrease.

“There’s no magic bullet for flood warnings,” Mr Perkins said.

“Flood forecasting is about limiting the uncertainty as [you] go through the event and provide the best possible advice.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the court heardabout the development of the draft Flood Risk Management Study and Plan for Dungog, which was placed on public exhibition earlier this year.

The document is aimed at improving the town’s flood response.

The inquest, before Deputy State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan at Newcastle Courthouse, continues on Thursday.

More SES representatives are expected to take the witness standbefore final submissions are made.


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