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Flash flooding likely as monsoonal low brings days of rain to north-west Queensland

By Krystal Gordon, Saturday January 25, 2020 - 11:38 EDT
ABC licensed image
Much needed rain at Lawn Hill, about 320km north of Mount Isa. - ABC licensed

Queensland's north-west is expected to get days of storms which are likely to cause flash flooding, bringing new hope to some graziers who've been waiting years for regular falls.

Winton and the North West were hit with widespread heavy falls and severe flooding in February last year, which was catastrophic for graziers, resulting in cattle losses totalling more than half a million head.

But most of Western Queensland and parts of the North West are still drought declared and there's a been a lack of follow-up rain.

The first of the rain came overnight — Richmond in north-west Queensland had 38 millimetres in 24 hours since 9:00am Thursday, Lower Creek in the Gulf Country received 25mm, and Longreach had 40mm.

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecaster Peter Markworth said the rain was being generated by a monsoonal low sitting over the Northern Territory.



"We're getting plenty of moisture coming in from the Gulf of Carpentaria, that is associated with showers and storms, with the possibility of some of those being severe for heavy rain fall," Mr Markworth said.

"It is possible that some of those storms can drop quite a bit of rainfall in a short amount of time which could, and most likely will, cause flash flooding under the bulk of that rain and nearby."

BOM expects the showers and storms to continue.



Pockets of rain up to 50mm is forecast from the western border to Longreach in the east, and Cooktown in the north.

"That seems to be pretty consistent over the weekend especially in the north and over the Gulf Country going through the Goldfields, central west and north west," Mr Markworth said.

"For the south west there is a trough sitting just at the top of the Channel Country, it does seem to be restricting most of the rainfall to the south as we get the southerlies with a lot of dust.



"But to the north of that trough it does look like much better news with a much higher chance of rainfall above that trough just sitting north of the Gulf Country at the moment.

"The best rain almost certainly will be up towards the Gulf Country and potentially over towards the Cairns and Townsville regions."

Major floods expected

BOM warns major flooding is possible early next week for Nicholson River, Leichhardt River, Lower Flinders River, Cloncurry River, Thomson River, the upper catchments of the Diamantina River, Georgina River and Eyre Creek.

Despite the warning for early next week, localised flooding could occur over the weekend.

"This event is not expected to produce the same widespread significant flooding ," BOM said in the warning.



'Most joyous thing'

Rosemary Champion, from Longway station near Longreach, said this morning the property had about 80mm since 8:00pm on Thursday.



"To get torrential rain like this in the morning is the most joyous thing that can happen," Ms Champion said.

"If we get some more over the next few days it would be absolutely awesome, perfect timing.

"Most of us know that those who have been around this area for a long time know to get rain in January is such critical month for rain — they always say the later you can get it the longer it lasts."

Ms Champion said they had been feeding their cattle a very expensive supplement to keep them going.

"Now we can cut back on that because our land responds very quickly," she said.

"It's a relief for us, for those cows with calves — it's like you've got a future to look forward too because money can't buy this."

Rain won't stop goldfish race

Camooweal grazier Will Seymour said he was feeling optimistic about the rain after missing out on decent falls for the last two years.

"Everyone's been waiting on it, they haven't just been waiting on it for two weeks, we've been waiting for a couple of years," Mr Seymour said.

"It's never a good thing seeing the bottom of dams, so hopefully we don't have to see it again for a while."

The town on the Queensland-Northern Territory border is holding lawnmower and goldfish races at the pub for Australia Day and Mr Seymour said the rain would not dampen their spirits.

"We'd have contingency plans, if you've got a pub and a bar then what else do you need?" he said.

"It wouldn't even stop us — we'd just do it in the rain."



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- ABC

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