Weather News

Queensland rainfall widespread with more wet and colder weather to come

By Francene Norton and David Chen, Thursday May 21, 2020 - 15:58 EST
ABC licensed image
The wet weather isn't over yet, with more forecast for the coming days. - ABC licensed

There has been widespread rain across most of Queensland, with average falls of between 10 and 20 millimetres but much heavier downpours in parts of the state's north.

While parts of south-west Queensland missed out, the northern tropics received the biggest totals, with Klump Point Tide, east of Tully, receiving 297mm in the 24 hours to 9:00am and 253mm at South Mission Beach.

Cairns Airport only received 18 millimetres, but further south Innisfail was drenched with 134mm.

Tully's seven-day rainfall total is just under 450mm, more than 100mm above the town's May average, while almost 360mm was recorded in Innisfail over the same period, 60mm more than the monthly average.

The inundation has prompted the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) to issue flood warnings for the Russell and Tully rivers.

More rain to come

Meteorologist Shane Kennedy said the wet weather was caused by tropical moisture drawn all the way from Indonesia across the state, being undercut by colder and drier air, forcing the tropical moisture up and forming a very thick cloud band and rain.

"It is quite an unusual set-up for this time of year," Mr Kennedy said.

"We do have an out-of-season tropical low near Indonesia that's causing a lot of the moisture source and the Indian ocean in our vicinity is much warmer than usual.

"It's providing a lot of rich, tropical air that's being drawn down across Australia."

While the rain has been far from drought-breaking, more wet weather is forecast for coming days.

"The cloud band is expected to start developing and intensifying over Far North Queensland," Mr Kennedy said.

"We are expecting rainfall totals, particularly around the north tropical coast, of between 15 and 40mm for the rest of Thursday and into Friday and Saturday.

"Saturday is likely to be the peak rainfall at this stage."

Falls reach southern inland

Rain has also fallen from the Sunshine Coast down to the border, with Lake Cooroibah near Noosa receiving 15mm, Deception Bay 15mm, Beerburrum 14mm and Coolangatta 17mm.

Some southern inland regions also had showers, with Oakey receiving 21mm in the 24 hours to 9:00am on Thursday.

Mitchell, Jondaryn and St George all had falls of 15mm, while Withcott and Bowenville received 14mm.

"Darling Downs is expecting widespread rain for the rest of Thursday, between five and 20mm across a broad area and maximum temperatures between 5 and 7 degrees (Celsius) below the May average," Mr Kennedy said.

"Toowoomba likely to have a maximum of just 13C on Friday and Saturday."

He said the rain was expected to clear out on Friday, tracking further north.

"Thick cloud [is forecast to remain] over South East Queensland for the next couple of days.

"But rainfall is largely lighter over this part compared to many other parts of Queensland.

"[We are] likely to see less than 10mm in the area and clearing out on Friday as the focus of the cloud band moves further north.

"Temperatures around the south east are expected to drop close to or below 20 degrees over the weekend, particularly Saturday."

Stanthorpe resident Max Hunter said locals were hoping for more rain over the next three months.

The region remains in drought and water is still being carted to the town after supplies ran out earlier this year.

"If we get a wet winter that will be quite encouraging because that will fill up a few yard dams up, fill up a few house tanks up for those in the rural areas," he said.

"But most importantly, it would give us some surety heading into springtime, hopefully the rain will come good and continue.

"If we can get some rain over the week or so, that will put a few smiles on people's faces knowing the fact that it still knows how to rain."

Winter is coming to the north

The BOM said the cloud and rain would persist through to late Saturday in the north as another upper trough developed over the Northern Territory and began to move eastwards.

Residents in north Queensland will have to dust off their winter coats, with maximum temperatures usually seen in southern states.

Townsville is forecast to reach a maximum of 17C on Saturday, which would equal its May record, set in 2012.

Cairns is forecast to reach a top of between 15C and 21C, while Rockhampton will shiver through a maximum of just 13C.

Charters Towers can expect a maximum of just 13C on Saturday.

The cold, wet and windy conditions prompted the BOM to issue a sheep graziers' warning.

It said parts of the Darling Downs and Granite Belt districts would be affected over the next two days, with a risk lambs and sheep could be lost if exposed to the cold conditions.

"The combination of thick cloud, rainfall and quite cold and dry air.. is [also] likely to create dangerous conditions for the cattle industry across northern and western Queensland on Friday and Saturday," Mr Kennedy said.


© ABC 2020

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