Weather News

Rain record broken near Townsville as a monsoonal low tracks across Queensland's north-west

By Rachel Riga, Kelly Butterworth and staff, Wednesday January 29, 2020 - 13:26 EDT
ABC licensed image
Ethan Cox, 9, from Warrnambool Station, at the edge of the flooding Western River in Winton. - ABC licensed

Torrential rain in north Queensland has smashed a record as a tropical low in the Gulf Country brings heavy rain to northern and western parts of Queensland as it slowly moves towards the Northern Territory.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said in the 24 hours to 9:00am yesterday the deluge at Ayr, south of Townsville, broke records — the 320mm daily rainfall total smashed the previous 1998 record of 190mm.

BOM forecaster Peter Markworth said a slow moving thunderstorm over Ayr caused the high rainfall total.

"It formed due to converging winds which brought a lot of moisture in and created a persistent thunderstorm. It doesn't happen very often," he said.

Rita Island, near Ayr, recorded more than half a metre of rain in 24 hours.

Burdekin Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said the rain had eased and most roads were reopened.

"We can't do anything about nature — we could've been a lot worse," Cr McLaughlin said.

"If that had have kept up all day, who knows what could've happened."

BOM senior forecaster Michael Knepp said there wasn't as much of a deluge overnight but parts of north Queensland still saw some significant totals.

"We haven't seen prodigious amounts of rainfall but Ingham has been the peak of the rain overnight with 150mm," Mr Knepp said.

"But there's been no flash flooding, that's the good news there just the general rainfall throughout northern Queensland."

Those who were flooded in Monday night's rain are still cleaning up.

A North Ward unit complex was inundated with knee-deep water when heavy rain hit the city.

Year 8 student Jett Dawson was preparing for the start of the school year when floodwaters caught his family off guard.

"We then went and got whatever we could and we brought it upstairs. Things like shoes, especially school shoes, things like textbooks for schools. Lost quite a few things but [we've] still got five members of the family," he said.

'It's making everyone very happy'

This time last year the Mckinlay Shire was in the grips of devastation — excessive rainfall caused flooding, a 20 degree temperature drop caused chill, and cattle deaths were in the thousands.

This year, the rain event is looking different, and Mckinlay Shire Mayor Belinda Murphy is feeling confident.

"We're a little bit wet which is lovely, we've all been looking forward to some rain," she said.

"By all accounts this year is very different [to 2019] — I think the only similarity is the timing, which I'm sure is making a lot of people very nervous.

"The eight-day forecast sees this lifting over the next two days, we are not dealing with the same event here."

Cr Murphy said last night 26mm fell in Julia Creek, but she had reports from properties to the north around Sedan Dip seeing 94mm in the gauges.

"Certainly at this point it's making everyone very happy, it was getting extraordinarily dry," she said.

Low to move into NT

BOM said heavy rain, flash flooding and damaging winds were likely for the Gulf Country, north west, northern Channel Country and south-western Peninsula until tonight.

It warned thunderstorms, falls of up to 200mm, and damaging winds of up to 90 kilometres per hour are possible for parts of the state.

Mr Knepp said the low should move out of Queensland this evening.

"The monsoonal low near Normanton hasn't been moving much overnight but today it will get a kick on towards the south-west and move into the Northern Territory and impact the NT and South Australia," he said.

Normanton in the Gulf has recorded more than 150mm since yesterday morning.

Local Normanton SES volunteer leader Troy Gallagher said thankfully they had not been too busy in the region.

"We're a pretty lucky town, we don't get tasked out for too many things," he said.

Like many in the region, Mr Gallagher is now looking towards the coming days to see if the sun will start shining through to give the grass a chance to grow.

"We could all do with a little bit of a break, just a nice wet season year would be nice instead of one extreme to another," he said.



© ABC 2020

More breaking news

Sydney Morning Herald
ABC News
News Limited

Display Your Local Weather

Weather News

Tasmania snow just part of life in Central Highlands lakeside town of Miena

13:38 EST

As the wood fire smoke swirls up, mingling with the snowflakes, the chimneys are barely visible, poking their heads through the snow covered rooftops.

Unsettled spell for WA

12:30 EST

A slow moving low will bring a period of wet and windy weather to Western Australia over the next few days.