Residents in north Queensland spent Tuesday battling ‘very damaging’ flooding with some parts inundated with more than 600mm of rain in just over 24 hours.
An alarming map on weather site Windy.com on Tuesday afternoon showed the torrential rainfall moving across the region with the Gulf Country expecting the worst conditions – a metre of rain is expected over the next three days.
It also shows a high accumulated total after 10 days from Mackay up to Far North Queensland until the border with the Northern Territory.
A severe weather warning was issued by the Bureau of Meteorology for the Gulf Country and surrounding areas on Tuesday at 10.57am advising of forecast heavy rainfall and damaging winds.
Further south early on Tuesday water levels rose quickly in the town of Ayr, just south of Townsville, after an extraordinary deluge dumped 458mm since 9am on Monday.
The Bureau described some rainfall totals as “incredible”. Rita Island, south of Townsville received 615mm since 9am Monday. The conditions prompted the bureau to warn on Tuesday morning of ‘life threatening flash flooding’ in the Herbert and Lower Berdekin district.
Burdekin mayor Lyn McLaughlin says the Bruce Highway is cut between Ayr and Home Hill on the southern side of the Burdekin River.
Roads in Ayr itself are also closed with only emergency vehicles allowed to pass.
"We're not letting any trucks through ... because the bow waves from moving traffic is pushing water towards businesses and houses," Ms McLaughlin told the ABC.
The deluge is being driven by a slow moving tropical low sitting over the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
So far, there have been 47 calls for SES assistance in the Burdekin area with 54 across the state for “leaking roofs, help with sandbagging and flooding,” a QFES spokesman told Yahoo News Australia.
Flood warnings of various levels have been issued for rivers throughout the state's interior.
Isolated heavy falls in catchments upstream have flooded the Paroo River – in the state's southwest – with bridges cut at Eulo. The river is expected to reach a moderate flood level by mid-week.
Weatherzone meteorologist Felix Levesque told Yahoo News Australia North Queensland has potential for “very damaging floods”.
He added conditions will continue into Wednesday as they move south and lose intensity.
Closed schools due to Queensland flooding
Airville State School
Brandon State School
Home Hill State School
Jarvisfield State School
Kalamia State School
Osborne State School
Urugandi State School
St Colman’s School (Home Hill)
Ayr Community Kindergarten (MacMillan and Mackenzie street campuses)
Big Birds Nest Child Care Centre
Bright Horizons Australia Childcare Ayr
Burdekin Family Day Care Scheme Inc
Home Hill Kindergarten
Paisley Park Early Learning Centre Ayr
Damaging winds and flash flooding forecast
Winds gusting to 90km/h and more torrential rain is expected on Tuesday and into Wednesday, with flash flooding possible at Burketown, Normanton, Croydon, Kowanyama, Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Georgetown, and Richmond.
There's also been significant rain at Winton, in the state's parched central west, with locals now praying for follow-up rain that will make a real difference to graziers.
Follow-up rain, adding to the 120mm that's fallen since Monday morning, will ensure growth in paddocks that have been bare for far too long.
"If we can get some more in another month or so, that'll just really set people up for the next six months," Winton mayor Gavin Baskett said on Tuesday.
‘As long as it keeps coming’
Localised rain in Townsville has seen State Emergency Service crews called in to prevent flood damage.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill says that so far there are no concerns the low pressure system will cause a repeat of the devastating floods of February last year, which caused more than $1 billion of damage.
"At the moment it's acting like a typical wet season where we see downpours with significant breaks in between," she told AAP.
"Last year we didn't have those breaks, it just kept raining and raining and raining. So far it's pretty much been business as usual."
Paroo Shire Council Deputy Mayor Suzette Beresford said the rain was very welcome after six years of drought.
"It's been patchy, with some properties receiving a bit more than others," she told AAP.
"As long as it keeps coming."
‘Monsoon season has arrived’
On Twitter, many residents celebrated the rainfall after Australia Day.
One woman tweeted, “monsoon season has arrived”.
“This is fantastic news, not bad news,” she tweeted.
“Nearly expired mowing the lawn last night. Now it’s going under water.”
On Facebook, the Valley Cash Store and Burdekin Seafood Hut in Ayr warned people to be careful driving past the shop.
“Please be mindful when driving past businesses to drive slow as you are pushing the water into our shops,” it wrote.
The store also joked due to the rainfall staff didn’t need to venture far for the catch of the day.
“Fresh local fish in store today, straight from the gutters of Burdekin Seafood Hut,” it wrote including a photo of a man with a fishing rod inside the store.
Home Hill Newsagency also shared photos of the flooding outside the shopfront.
A woman joked she would be popping by to pick up her book order.
“By boat,” the store wrote in its reply to her.
What does it mean for the rest of Australia?
Mr Levesque said the system will “lose intensity” as it heads inland then further south from Thursday.
However, it means some areas of South Australia and Victoria will be hit by the system but without the intense rainfall.
Marla, northwest of Adelaide, could receive up to 25mm on Saturday while Coober Peedy and Roxby Downs could receive up to 20mm and 15mm respectively.
A Tropical Low moving through the Gulf Country – bringing w/ it heavy rainfall – is expected to move southwestwards over the coming days while southern parts of #Queensland will experience low-intensity heatwave conditions. See the latest #Qld warnings ... https://t.co/FBmpsInT9o pic.twitter.com/sk8ZaKGPAW— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) January 28, 2020
Adelaide’s CBD could also receive anywhere between 10 to 25mm on Saturday.
Melbourne is also due for a wet Saturday with between 5 to 15mm of rain forecast.
Unfortunately, areas along the NSW-Victoria state border won’t receive much rain at all.
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