Source of Flood Water Being Snow Questioned
The Sydney Morning Herald
18 February 1845
Observing in one of your numbers a leading article on the subject of Meteorology, I am induced to trouble you with the following observations:
In the article I refer to, I find the following expression: "That the flood of the Murrumbidgee was occasioned by the melting of the snow on the Australian Alps is the commonly received notion."
The writer then proceeds to show the probability that rain only caused the flood in question.
In justice to his theory, and in defence of the observing portion of the Murrumbidgee population, I state, that I never heard it asserted, except by one or two persons, that the snow on the Snowy Mountains caused our flood; it was indeed reported in your paper by your Gundagai correspondent, whose statements in many respects would be improved by an adherence to facts.
The Murrumbidgee was much swollen by rains and the melting of snow in September and the early part of October (being probably on an average from 12 to l8 feet above its summer level).
On the 12th and 13th an unprecedentedly heavy fall of rain took place) extending chiefly on the northern side of the Murrumbidgee, from Limestone Plain downwards.
The Tumut River was less swollen by this rain than it had been by other rains in the winter, while the Murrumbidgee rose 12 or 14 feet higher than it had been during the whole season.
A very sufficient proof that the melting of snow did not cause the flood is this: the River Murrumbidgee was highest at Gundagai on Tuesday, the 15th; the rain which fell on the 12th and 13th, by causing the tributaries to the river between Limestone and Gundagai to rise, could of course produce the flood, while sufficient time had not elapsed to allow the melted snow to arrive by the tortuous course of the river from its source.
I have only to add, that during the winter of 1844, the rains came from the eastward and northward; in former winters our rain came from southward and westward, and rarely from the north-westward.
Though we have had very hot days, we have hardly had one warm night during this summer.
I am, Gentlemen, Your obedient servant, Observer,
Murrumbidgee, January 27