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Potential for a month's rain in a day for central Queensland

Brett Dutschke, Thursday March 6, 2014 - 12:01 EDT

After a late start to the wet season parts of Queensland's central tropics are likely to gain more than a month's worth of rain in just one day if an intense low or cyclone hits this weekend.

If a low pressure system, currently about 1100 kilometres northeast of Mackay, becomes as intense and as close to the coast as some computer models suggest, it will dump 200-300 millimetres of rain in a day.

Models are suggesting the most likely area for this to occur is the Central Coast and adjacent inland, where it would amount to more than the average March rainfall.

For some places this would be more rain in a day than during all of this wet season so far. In just two-or-three days the wettest areas should double their wet season tally. Mackay and Collinsville are having their driest wet season to date in eight years with about half the December-to-March average rainfall.

It would bring a massive late wet season recovery but unfortunately for some, be too much rain in too short a time. This could be the heaviest rain they've received in decades, almost certainly leading to major flooding.

Associated with rain as heavy as this would be damaging wind, surf and storm surge. Wind speeds would exceed 100km/h, strong enough to at least bring down trees and powerlines. The large surf and storm surge would lead to significant beach erosion and add to the flooding from the heavy rain.

Based on some of the current computer model projections, the area between about Ayr and Mackay, including Bowen, Proserpine and Collinsville, is in the firing line.

Other models suggest the low pressure system//cyclone would stay far enough offshore to deliver significantly less rain, wind, surf and storm surge.

Model variation suggests there is by no means only one outcome, so all eastern and northern Queensland residents are urged to keep an eye and ear out for any warnings during the coming few days.

Systems such as these seem to have a mind of their own and keep their future movements a secret, not even telling the computers that try to forecast them.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2014

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