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North Queensland rain will continue into next week, BOM warns

By Emilie Gramenz and Nibir Khan, Thursday January 7, 2021 - 15:20 EDT
ABC licensed image
The Burdekin River over Hervey's Range Road just outside Townsville on Wednesday. - ABC licensed

There is little reprieve in sight for parts of north Queensland with intense rainfall from ex-Tropical Cyclone Imogen hovering near the coast around Ayr and expected to converge with a separate trough.



Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) senior forecaster Felim Hanniffy said the weakening low pressure system brought heavy rainfall between Ayr and Bowen overnight.

Ayr received 130 millimetres and nearby Alva Beach had up to 200mm.

A separate trough over southern Queensland created intense storms at Ipswich, west of Brisbane, overnight where 112mm fell at Amberley ? 86mm in just one hour.

While the weather was stabilising in the south-east, showers could impact the coast before pushing inland later today.

The BOM warned severe thunderstorms with heavy rain and flash flooding was possible on Thursday evening about the east coast between Ayr and Sarina, and also inland between the southern Tablelands and the Carnarvon Ranges.

The southern trough is pushing north and expected to converge with ex-Tropical Cyclone Imogen over the next few days which will likely move heavy rain further north, towards the Cassowary Coast.

"The focal point for the shower activity with that system over the next two days is really between Ayr and Mackay and then the focus will shift back northward, up towards the Cassowary Coast over the weekend," Mr Hanniffy said.



Rain until next week

Mr Hanniffy said the north east will continue to experience heavy showers throughout the week and into the middle of next week.

"The only respite I can see is in the second half of next week," he said.

"After Wednesday it looks like things generally kind of subside, as that surge pushes north again."



Residents of the Bemerside and Macknade areas north of Ingham are being urged to boil their drinking water after the water treatment plant was struck by lightning.

Hinchinbrook Mayor Ramon Jayo said the strike "knocked out some of the systems" for an unknown period of time.

"We have it all back online now but we need residents to boil their water until we get that water in the reservoirs tested which hopefully will happen today," he said.



Crocodiles on the prowl in floodwaters

Streets in Ingham and Mr Hanniffy said there was still a risk of flash flooding there.

"The risk is probably overnight or later today with the storm activity kind of wrapping around it during the afternoon-evening and then going offshore and developing and converging on shore overnight," he said.

"That'll be the period to watch again for further localised, heavy falls."



Mayor Jayo said residents needed to be mindful when walking around flood waters.

"I have reports of two crocodile sightings now close to populated areas ? one in the Macknade township and one in the Halifax township," he said.

"We need to be very vigilant that those fellas are about."

Hundreds call for help

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) state coordinator Brian Cox said thunderstorms were predicted for northern and central Queensland today.



A major flood warning remains in place for the Herbert River and a minor warning for the Burdekin River.

"We've already got high rivers, we've already got water inundations in those areas, it won't take much for those storms to affect flash flooding," he said.

The State Emergency Service (SES) has had 320 requests for assistance since the rainfall began last weekend.

In the 24 hours to Thursday morning, the SES had 85 calls, with more than 50 in the state's south-east.

One person called for assistance at 7:00pm on Wednesday after driving their car into floodwaters at a bridge in Port Douglas, in Far North Queensland.

QFES said the person escaped the vehicle and tied themselves to a tree as a precaution but the floodwaters receded quickly and they did not need further assistance.


- ABC

© ABC 2021

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