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Tropical Cyclone Imogen delivers falls of more than 200mm to Queensland Gulf communities

By Kelly Butterworth, Ross Kay and staff, Tuesday January 5, 2021 - 00:26 EDT
ABC image
Heavy rain at Black Gully Creek Crossing made some properties inaccessible. - ABC

Hundreds of people in Far North Queensland are set to spend a second night without power after Tropical Cyclone Imogen crossed the coast.



TC Imogen has since been downgraded to a tropical low after crossing land just north of Karumba in the Gulf of Carpentaria about 9:00pm Sunday, dumping plenty of rain on townships.

Normanton Airport recorded 259 millimetres, with 186mm of that falling in just three hours.

More than 1,000 customers lost power in the immediate aftermath of the storm, but most were reconnected by Monday night, according to Ergon Energy's power outage map.

Earlier, the company said some areas hit by power cuts were only accessible by air, and it hadn't been able to conduct aerial patrols due to the weather.

Crews would be deployed to assess the damage as soon as it was safe, though repair work could be delayed by flooding, the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, locals were advised to avoid downed power lines.

Images from Normanton, south of Karumba, showed trees lying across toppled cables and severe flooding.



Flood warnings

Since making landfall on Sunday, the weather system lost strength as it moved further inland, and at 11:00am Monday the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) downgraded it to a tropical low.

The low is moving east-south-east and is expected to bring heavy rainfall that could cause more flash flooding from Cooktown to Ayr in coming days, BOM said in a statement.

Some of the rain is expected to fall on rivers already swollen from recent downpours, which means they are more likely to break their banks.

A severe weather warning is in place for North Tropical Coast and Tablelands, Herbert and Lower Burdekin and parts of Peninsula, Gulf Country and Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders Forecast Districts.

"Flooding has already been recorded in the Norman and Gilbert catchments, and is expected in North Tropical Coast catchments from late Monday," BOM said in a statement.



Earlier, BOM forecaster Ricus Lombard said the tropical north should expect a drenching.

"We're only going to see this [rainfall] increase," he said.

"Whatever forms up they're going to be pretty well saturated.



Grazier isolated from flash flooding

The heaviest downpours between Townsville and Mackay were recorded in the Giru area on Monday, where residents are closely monitoring flash flooding over a crucial road.

Over 24 hours, 180mm was recorded at Majors Creek, 160mm at Giru, 129mm at Cungulla and 125mm at Alligator Creek.

Jamie Gallego at Black Gully Homestead near Giru said he was keeping a close eye on the Black Gully Creek crossing at Woodstock Giru Road.



The Department of Transport and Main Roads has issued a flash flooding warning, with water over the road as of Monday morning.

Mr Gallego said each year his property was isolated from the crossing going under.

"You can guarantee every year it will for a couple of days," he said.

"You always keep an eye on it because with the rain we've already had we only need a good deluge or five or six inches and it'll come up again for sure.

"You just make sure you've got all your bare essentials and make sure you have enough food."



Mr Gallego said the late wet season was desperately needed to produce more feed for cattle in the region.

"It's a late start but it's a good start," he said.



"The last couple of days, we've had good, constant rain for a long period.

"The big difference is three months, four months prior to this we were feeding cattle every day because it was so dry.

"If we get a good wet season it'll keep the country going depending on how much winter rain you get.

"But if you don't get any winter rain the rain we get at the beginning of the year [will] probably last till August, maybe September."

Sweers Island hit by strong gusts

On Sweers Island in the Gulf, Lyn and Tex Battle said the level of wind and rain they experienced on Sunday was unexpected.



Ms Battle said the rain was very welcome, with 162mm measured at 9:00am on Sunday morning.

"Our anemometer stopped working but we estimate 50 knots to 70 knot gusts," she said.

"My ham radio antenna is still standing ? Tex had to unbolt the pump off the well before it got submerged."

'Not our first rodeo'

Carpentaria Shire Council Mayor Jack Bawden said the region was prepared for the cyclone.



"I got no calls last night so I would say that everybody was hunkered down and fared okay," Cr Bawden said.



"It's one of those things ? what do they say? It's not our first rodeo.

"People tend to be better prepared, and before Christmas we did a clean-up and awareness and everything so I'm hoping that everything finished up being okay."

Cr Bawden said he expected roads to be cut and the region to be isolated.

"It was quite gusty pretty much all night ? I think we got up to about 110 kph gusts, which isn't much but when they're whistling over your roof it sounds a lot," he said.

"There's going to be a lot of water between here and east which is where it's headed ? Croydon and Georgetown will be certainly getting the rain off it."



He said while the region was always prepared for summer storms and cyclone activity, TC Imogen came earlier than expected.

"We know this happens every year. It's probably a bit earlier this year than we're used to, usually it's around Easter or end of February," he said.


- ABC

© ABC 2021

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