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From Devastating Floods to Blistering Heat

Joel Pippard, Sunday February 10, 2019 - 12:38 EDT

Just after the massive flooding around Townsville and Northern Queensland in the past two weeks, a severe heatwave is taking hold this week.

Over the past fortnight, Townsville has recorded 1422mm in the rain gauge, or about 130% of their normal annual rainfall. This heavy rain caused catastrophic flooding, causing millions of dollars of damage and several fatalities.

Image: Himawari-8 Satellite image of Northern QLD on Sunday morning. Flooded areas are in orange with dirt being washed out to sea.

Unfortunately, just as the rains have stopped, the heat is starting to move over the area. Townsville is expected to reach or exceed 36 degrees each day for the next five days; severe heatwave conditions. This would make it the hottest five day hot spell in February since 2002. However, it will be cooler than the extended hot spell in November 2018.

To compound the impact from the flooding, issues with mold and mosquitos will likely be exacerbated as the heat will combine with the high humidity to become the perfect breeding ground. Humidity will make it feel much hotter, particularly on Sunday and Monday, when winds are lighter, allowing the moisture to be felt. At 11am on Sunday, the temperature was 32 degrees but felt more like 37 degrees.

The silver-lining to this heat is that it is a dry airmass approaching the region. This will produce clear skies with only the slight chance of the odd storm each day until Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday, dry and gusty southwesterly winds will also help dry the air around Townsville with rainfall being unlikely.

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