500mm+: Roads cut, schools shut after huge falls
HALF-a-metre of rainfall has isolated towns, cut roads, shut schools, stranded motorists and flooded buildings in north Queensland.
Earlier today, the weather bureau warned of "dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding" after severe thunderstorms dumped more than 500mm in just 24 hours in the Burdekin district.
"It's very intense rainfall," the Bureau of Meteorology's Peter Markworth said.
"It's still going strong.
"And there is still potential for heavy falls tonight and tomorrow in the Burdekin and north to Townsville and Cairns.''
Massive totals have come through with Rita Island, which sits at the mouth of the Burdekin River, recording 529mm of rain over the last 24 hours.
Some incredible rainfall totals recorded over the last 24 hrs. Intense rainfall recording over 500mm around Ayr, south east of Townsville, which itself received between 100-150mm.— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) January 27, 2020
Elsewhere, Normanton (Glenore Weir 193mm) and Hughendon (Woodbine 130mm) https://t.co/GN6vJCCaaJ pic.twitter.com/40G5Br0uPs
Other huge totals include 421mm at nearby Ayr and 418mm at Groper Creek.
Inkerman Bridge recorded falls of 403mm in 24 hours, while further north Nelly Bay at Magnetic Island copped 218mm.
Garbutt in Townsville recorded 156mm, while Prospect Creek at Mackay recorded 146mm.
There was flash flooding in parts of Townsville overnight, with the local State Emergency Service controller Vince Close saying crews had been kept busy helping prevent flood damage.
"We had 21 jobs all over town, sandbagging and tarping," he said.
"Just typical wet season jobs."
Residents at one suburban unit block were urged to retreat to higher ground.
Four fire crews and a swift water boat were called to the address.
Heavy rain also caused a landslide in another part of the city.
The sugar town of Home Hill was cut off by flooding over the Bruce Highway and the first day back at school was cancelled for half a dozen schools in the Burdekin district.
Ayr, Alva Beach and Clare are all at risk of flash flooding under the intense rainfall, the BOM warned.
Graham Baker from Home Hill Newsagency described the intense rainfall affecting his business as "very scary".
"This morning it was right up on the footpath, right next to the shop. You just never know what's going to happen and when it's going to stop," he told The Courier-Mail.
"We've got all the bread and milk in very short supply so hopefully the rain stops so we can get that stuff through tomorrow."
Luckily for Mr Baker he left home early to do the paper run, but his wife has been stuck at home because of the road closures.
"It's slacking off a bit now but I just checked the gauge outside and it's at about 20 inches so we've had at least 500ml of rain."
Dean Narramore from the Bureau confirmed a few hours of relief for the areas between Ayr and Bowen, but said there would be moBOM says the areas between Ayr and Bowen should get a couple of hours of relief.
Unfortunately, the rain will pick up again through the next six to twelve hours.
"We could see that set up again this afternoon and this evening with consistent wet weather and bursts of very heavy rainfall."
Floodwaters are currently affecting the Bruce Highway at Ayr. The highway may be closed at short notice. Please exercise caution, drive to conditions and expect delays.— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) January 27, 2020
If it's flooded, forget it. pic.twitter.com/y8o9Fcry7D
A monsoonal low in the Gulf of Carpentaria was driving the convergence on the state's east coast near Ayr, allowing the thunderstorms and heavy rain to "sit in the same spot", Mr Markworth said.
Burdekin MP Dale Last said it was "bucketing down" but only in concentrated areas.
"We've got flash flooding coming up to the doorways of shops in some places.
"There is some serious water flowing."
The Gulf Country has taken a hit as well with over 130mm recorded in Normanton over the last day.
Flood cameras from the Carpentaria Shire in Gulf Country have captured some vision of the high rainfall.
A warning was issued early this morning for Gulf Country with heavy rain and damaging winds expected.
In western Queensland, graziers were rejoicing with some nice rain totals as Winton posted 117mm in 24 hours.