Steve Irving loads sandbags at the SES headquarters in Cairns. Picture: AAP/Marc McCormack
Steve Irving loads sandbags at the SES headquarters in Cairns. Picture: AAP/Marc McCormack

Wild weather: We’re not out of the woods just yet

BOM authorities have warned of severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall which could lead to flooding all over the state in the wake of ex-tropical cyclone Owen.

With ex-tropical cyclone Owen moving back over the Coral Sea at around 4am this morning, it is now a completely different system crossing the southeast that has authorities concerned.

The separate trough system is predicted to bring severe thunderstorms to the southeast, with heavy rains predicted all the way down to Ipswich.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

Almost 140mm of rain was recorded in just three hours in Pomona in the Sunshine Coast hinterland this morning.

A forecaster from BOM says there is still a chance for even heavier rainfall today and tomorrow, and has advised southeast Queenslanders to keep an eye on flood warnings.

Queensland is not out of the woods just yet in terms of wild weather, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has warned this morning.

With 680mm recorded over the last 24 hours in Halifax and 390mm in Lucinda, people should brace themselves for potential flooding all over the state.

Ms Palaszczuk says the localised heavy rainfalls seen across the east coast are expected to continue for the rest of the day and into tomorrow.

There is more than just flood water to worry about in North Queensland, after reports of crocodiles on the roads around Halifax, Ingham and Cardwell.

 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the localised heavy rainfalls seen across the east coast are expected to continue for the rest of the day and into tomorrow. Picture: Peter Wallis
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the localised heavy rainfalls seen across the east coast are expected to continue for the rest of the day and into tomorrow. Picture: Peter Wallis

 

Ms Palaszczuk advised people to keep out of the way of any wildlife.

'There are a lot of crocodiles being sighted at the moment so please be careful on the roads, and please don't go near the crocodiles,' she said.

Deputy Commissioner for Queensland Police, Bob Gee, says police were called out to assist someone who had a close encounter with a croc near Cardwell last night.

'Police were out there helping a young lady who got into a spot of bother in an unpredictable environment, and as they were leaving there was a big croc on the side of the road, Commissioner Gee said.

'I think it's obvious… you're going to run into wildlife in those areas when there's floods.'

BoM senior forecaster Michelle Berry told ABC radio the rainfall as "exceptional".

Police have advised people to avoid driving on the Bruce Highway between Cairns and Townsville due to flooding on various parts of the road, and ask for people to remain calm and patient with authorities as they work to keep everyone safe.

This comes after reports of abuse towards traffic controllers around flooded roads near Townsville, which a spokeswoman from Queensland Police says will not be tolerated.

 

A vehicle passes water on the side of the road in Manunda, as Cyclone Owen dumps heavy rain in the region. Picture: AAP Image/Marc McCormack
A vehicle passes water on the side of the road in Manunda, as Cyclone Owen dumps heavy rain in the region. Picture: AAP Image/Marc McCormack

 

Halifax and Ingham have been some of the hardest hit areas with rain overnight, with Halifax recording around 650mm since 9am yesterday.

QFES have also received reports of cars stuck in water in Halifax and Ingham after people attempted to drive in flood waters.

In the southeast, Pomona in the Sunshine Coast hinterland has recorded 120mm in just the last few hours.

A map showing the path of ex-tropical cyclone Owen across Queensland.
A map showing the path of ex-tropical cyclone Owen across Queensland.

BOM authorities warn of potential severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall all over the southeast today, with immediate warnings in place for Gympie, Somerset, Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay areas.

There is a chance ex-tropical cyclone Owen, dubbed a "zombie" cyclone, may re-form off the Queensland coast after unloading wild winds and up to 200mm of torrential rain across the state's far north.

Two isolated aboriginal townships "dodged a bullet" as the Category 3 cyclone veered south early on Saturday to hit the sparsely populated western part of Cape York.

Cyclone Owen still packed a punch in its compact core - just 30km wide in the most destructive eye - with 120km/h winds and dumping 200mm of rain in two hours in parts.

But by late on Saturday afternoon, Owen was a cyclone no more, with the Bureau of Meteorology downgrading it to a tropical low.

A Curlew is seen in Cairns – the normally land based bird was seen catching worms and bugs in the water on the side of the road in Manunda. Picture: AAP Image/Marc McCormack
A Curlew is seen in Cairns – the normally land based bird was seen catching worms and bugs in the water on the side of the road in Manunda. Picture: AAP Image/Marc McCormack

 

QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said it was one of the best-case scenarios emergency services had seen in a long time, but warned of heavy rainfall and flash flooding that could still follow.

"Please do not be complacent, particularly in that northeast tropics area where the rain will continue," Ms Carroll said.

"As always, if it's flooding forget it. And as always, listen to your warnings."

There was a 50 per cent chance of Owen again spinning back up into a cyclone in the Coral Sea off Townsville on Tuesday.

There are no reports of overnight swift water rescues at this stage.

There was heavy rain in the state's north overnight, especially between Cardwell and Ayr.

At 4:47 am BoM issued a Severe Weather Warning for heavy rainfall and damaging winds for people in North Tropical Coast and Tablelands, Herbert and Lower Burdekin, Central Coast and Whitsundays, Capricornia and parts of Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders, Central Highlands and Coalfields and Wide Bay and Burnett Forecast Districts.

Heavy rainfall to extend from the tropics south through central Queensland today and overnight. Damaging winds possible in coastal areas north of about Bowen.

 

 

4.40am Severe Weather Warning for heavy rainfall and damaging winds
4.40am Severe Weather Warning for heavy rainfall and damaging winds

 

Ex tropical cyclone Owen has moved off the North Tropical Coast and, at 4am AEST, it lay about 80km southeast of Innisfail. It is forecast to move southeastwards and will likely lie off the Central Coast by early Monday morning. A broad upper level trough will move east over the state on Sunday and will eventually shift offshore into the Coral Sea later on Monday.

Heavy rainfall, which may lead to flash flooding, is occurring in the northern Herbert and Lower Burdekin district. This heavy rain is expected to extend south into central Queensland today, as far as Bundaberg overnight tonight. Scattered six hourly rainfall totals between 100 and 200mm are likely, with isolated higher falls. Locations that may be affected include Ingham, Townsville, Palm Island, Charters Towers, Bowen, Proserpine, Mackay, Clermont, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Biloela, and Bundaberg.

 

 

Currently the heaviest rain is occurring over the Herbert and Lower Burdekin district. Halifax, east of Ingham, has recorded 300mm in the six hours to 5am Sunday, and 623mm since 9am Saturday.

Damaging wind gusts in excess of 90km/h are possible in coastal areas north of about Bowen as the tropical low moves south. A 100 km/h wind gust was recorded at Lucinda at 3:30am Sunday.

The tropical low will most likely lie offshore of the Mackay coast on Monday before shifting slow north again during Tuesday and Wednesday. At this stage the low is not expected to redevelop into a tropical cyclone. The situation will be monitored carefully and tropical cyclone advisories will be issued if necessary.

 

BoM issued several flood warnings overnight:

- Minor Flood Warning for the Bohle River

- Minor Flood Warning for the Herbert River

- Final Flood Warning for the Mulgrave and Russell Rivers

- Flood Watch for south Cape York Peninsula and coastal catchments from Cape Tribulation to St Lawrence

- Initial Flood Warning for the lower Diamantina River

 

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Southeast Queensland for heavy rainfall
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Southeast Queensland for heavy rainfall

 

At 7.22am BoM issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Southeast Queensland

for heavy rainfall that is likely to affect Gympie, Somerset, Sunshine Coast, Noosa and Moreton Bay Council Areas.

Thunderstorms with heavy rainfall continue over the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

Severe thunderstorms are likely to produce heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding in the warning area over the next several hours.

Locations which may be affected include Kilcoy, the area northwest of Noosa Heads and Pomona.

120mm of rainfall at Pomona in the past three hours.

 

MEANWHILE back in Kowanyama on the Gulf of Carpentaria side of Cape York local Mayor Michael Yam said his community "dodged a bullet" when the cyclone veered south.

"We were right in the bullseye but then it dipped and went south," Cr Yam said.

"It's a bit strange, we got a bit of wind and rain overnight, but nothing much.

"There's no structural damage, a little debris, we're all good and in one piece.

"What I'm really happy about is the preparation.

"Everyone went into lockdown and took the threat seriously."

Kowanyama “dodged a bullet”, according to Mayor Michael Yam.
Kowanyama “dodged a bullet”, according to Mayor Michael Yam.

The State Emergency Service received 400 calls for help throughout Friday night.

State Disaster Coordinator Deputy Commissioner Bob Gee said it had been a long night without sleep for many in the state's north.

"Two small indigenous communities in the Gulf asked for help, they received help, they were prepared, they did lots of hard work and it's worked for them, and most importantly as a community they came together and opened their doors to each other," he said.

"They were incredibly patient, and worked together well as a team and they should be congratulated."

The weather system was expected to move back out over water between Innisfail and Townsville overnight.

Extra police had been deployed to Ingham as a "safeguard", with flooding a major concern.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service executive director of medical services Dr Tony Brown urged people living across the far north to take care of their health and avoid contact with floodwaters.

Lewis Tyson, from Graceville, and Lucia Perry, from Tully, at Moffat Beach on Saturday. Picture: AAP/Meghan Slade
Lewis Tyson, from Graceville, and Lucia Perry, from Tully, at Moffat Beach on Saturday. Picture: AAP/Meghan Slade

He said infections, dermatitis, conjunctivitis and ear, nose and throat infections could all be caused by exposure to polluted water.

"You should also consider avoiding flood water and mud if you have broken skin or wounds, especially if you have diabetes or other chronic diseases,'' he said.

"And please see a health professional or your doctor early for severe wounds, especially if the wound is dirty or becomes red, sore, swollen or painful.''

 

QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll at the State Disaster Management Centre. Picture: AAP/John Gass
QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll at the State Disaster Management Centre. Picture: AAP/John Gass


The bureau warned there was still a chance of heavy rainfall leading to flash flooding in the Gulf Country and Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders regions.

It was still predicting that large parts of the Queensland east coast would see significant rainfall of between 50mm and 100mm between today and Tuesday, with a chance of heavier falls around the Townsville area.

Further south, rough seas saw surf lifesavers perform multiple rescues of swimmers on the Sunshine Coast, including five children who were pulled from the water by a lifesaving jetski.

"Parents need to be with their child at all times in the water," a spokesman said. "Lifeguards are not babysitters."


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