Torrential rainfall of more than half a metre in parts of north Queensland has caused localised flooding and a rock slide in Townsville, with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) tipping the system will provide “the best rainfall” the area has seen in some time.
- The SES received about 20 calls for help in Townsville after localised flooding
- Graziers said they have paddocks so full of water “you could go for a swim”
- Rail freight services have been cancelled until lines between Mount Isa and Townsville can be checked
BOM said Rita Island near Ayr has recorded 529 millimetres since 9:00am yesterday.
Ayr itself received 421 mm, while Nelly Bay on Magnetic Island near Townsville got 218mm.
Despite the heavy falls which are expected to continue today, BOM’s Harry Clark said it was unlikely the region would see flooding to the same levels as this time last year.
“Simply the system isn’t going to be around for long enough to produce the same levels of inundation and rainfall,” Mr Clark said.
“The flip side of that is it’s probably going to be some of the best rainfall they’ve had in quite a substantial period of time.”
Floodwaters have cut the Bruce Highway between Ayr and Home Hill.
The heavy falls also triggered a rockslide in Townsville’s CBD overnight, blocking Sturt Street to morning traffic.
Localised flooding was also recorded in suburbs surrounding the city, with water washing through the bottom floor of a North Ward unit complex.
The SES received about 20 calls for help overnight, mainly for leaky roofs and requests for sandbags.
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the start of the Townsville floods.
Townsville mayor Jenny Hill said although the wet weather was not expected to cause the same devastation, she understood people would be feeling anxious about the rain.
“There are still of lot of people who aren’t in their homes at the moment — there are people, particularly children, who are very mindful when they see heavy rain what it might mean.”
“And obviously for us … things like landslips and we had a couple of homes that were inundated with water — these sorts of things happening around the community are obviously of concern.”
Eight schools have been closed in north Queensland due to the severe weather.
‘It relieves a lot of stress’
The weather bureau is also monitoring a tropical low that has moved into the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The system is expected to provide falls to the eastern gulf coastline today — areas around Normanton and Kowanyama — then move to inland Australia and further south later in the week.
Normanton in the Gulf Country has recorded 135mm of rain, with Winton in the central west recording 117mm.
A severe weather warning remains in place for areas such as Mount Isa and Cloncurry.
In February’s devastating floods last year, Geoff Cox at Warnabool Downs, 50km south of Winton, lost more than 250 head of cattle.
He said the 336mm of rain he’s got in the last three days probably was too much rain, but he’s hoping for some sunny days to make it useful.
“You can’t knock it back once you got it — it was pretty dry before,” he said.
“You look out, we’ve got a big downs paddock in front of the house, it’s like 50 Olympic swimming pools, you could go for a swim if you really needed to.”
Carpentaria mayor Jack Bawden said the shire was well prepared for severe weather with more heavy falls and damaging winds expected.
He said the rain had given some relief to producers.
“Naturally it relieves a lot of stress, people were starting to do our ring-arounds and see how people were faring with drought conditions because we were never drought declared and things were starting to look pretty dire for quite a while now from before Christmas so this is a really good thing,” he said.
“The gulf’s the breeding ground for everywhere else in Queensland pretty much so the more the pastoral industry gets, the better off we are to a certain degree of course, we don’t want too much but we’re hard to please.”
Rail lines closed
Meanwhile, a Queensland Rail spokesperson said the heavy rain had closed the rail line between Townsville and Mount Isa.
“Flood waters will need to recede in areas until the full length of the line can be inspected,” the spokesperson said.
“All freight trains along the line have now been stabled at dry locations.”
The spokesperson said the Inlander passenger train was being held at Cloncurry.
Due to the road flooding in the Hughenden region, the Inlander train could not be replaced by a road coach at this stage.
Queensland Rail Travel customers should continue to check the status of their train service at queenslandrailtravel.com.au/serviceupdates or by calling 1800 803 009.