Major highways were cut and residents flooded in as more than 300mm of torrential rain bucketed down on south-east Queensland overnight.
Two people were stranded after trying to drive through floodwater on the Gold Coast, with police receiving more than 50 reports of flooded roads across the city on Saturday morning.
The deluge hit the Gold Coast the hardest with 325mm of rain falling at Loders Creek and more than 200mm in the Gold Coast hinterland.
Floodwater closed the M1 at Helensvale as emergency crews tried to pump water away. Heavy trucks were being allowed to pass through but cars continued to be diverted.
There was flash flooding reported on the Gold Coast highway at Miami, as well as at Chelmer, Kenmore Hills and Birkdale.
According to the weather bureau, triple the monthly rainfall has fallen on the Gold Coast in the past 12 hours.
The SES said it had responded to more than 160 callouts on the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast.
The Bureau of Meteorology said 95mm had fallen in the space of one hour at the Gold Coast suburb of Carrara and 145mm had fallen within two hours at Monterey Keys.
The theme parks Warner Bros Movie World, Dreamworld and Whitewater World were closed to the public.
“Please be aware that due to severe weather and flooding, Warner Bros Movie World will be closed today for the safety of our guests and team members,” Village Roadshow said in a social media post.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services advised the public to beware of fallen trees and power lines and not to attempt to drive, walk or ride through floodwaters.
The slow-moving cell was affecting northern New South Wales and starting to move offshore.