Environment

Major flooding hits Queensland, comparable to 2009 flood event


A major flooding is affecting the North Tropical Coast of Queensland, Australia following four straight days of heavy rain. This flood situation has seen communities isolated, schools closed and highways cut, with overall flood impacts comparable to the February 2009 flood event.

A disaster situation has been declared and evacuations ordered following flooding across north Queensland. A record major flood in the Murray River at Murray Flats was expected to peak possibly around 9 m (29.5 feet) during Friday afternoon, March 9, 2018, BOM Senior Meteorologist Adam Morgan said. At the same time, levels on the Tully River at Euramo were expected to reach close to the major flood level.

The main focus yesterday was on the Herbert River. “The flood peak is currently around Ingham Pump Station and major flood levels are around 14.7 m (48.2 miles). A major flood peak similar to the February 2009 floods is expected at Ingham during Friday afternoon.”

More than 200 homes were flooded the town and flood waters are now starting to recede. 

The highest rainfall in the 24 hours to 09:00 local time Friday, March 10 was 409 mm (16.1 inches) at Kirrama Range.

Over the past four days (ending March 9), 853 mm (33.6 inches) was registered at Bulgun Creek, with widespread totals in the range of 500 to 700 mm (19.7 – 27.5 inches). 621 mm (24.4 inches) fell at Tully, 403 mm (15.8 inches) at Innisfail and 322 mm (12.7 inches) at Cairns Racecourse. 973 mm (38.3 inches) fell inland of Babinda over the past 4 days to 09:00 local time today. Boulders, south of Cairns, received 1 009 mm (39.7 inches) in the seven days to 09:00 local time Saturday, March 10.

“What’s unique this time around too is that very heavy rain extended further inland from the coast than we’d normally see in these situation, which means stronger flood peaks in through the upper reaches of many river systems,” Morgan said.

“Although showers will continue along the coast into early next week, the heavy rain should gradually clear south of about Cairns by the end of Friday night,” he said. “That doesn’t mean the flood threat is over yet though, as flood peaks gradually progress downstream though river systems towards the coast.”

The monsoon trough will gradually move into the northern Gulf of Carpentaria by Sunday, March 11, but compared to earlier this week, any significant development of this low now looks to be pushed back a little into early next week.

Conditions in the atmosphere do still look favorable for the potential development of a tropical cyclone next week. This system could bring more rain to already saturated ground, regardless whether it forms a cyclone.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the full extent of the damage would not be known for weeks, but that flooding would have a detrimental impact on banana and sugar cane crops, and the aquaculture industry.

“We will get the full assessments over the next few weeks about the impact on the economy and I think everyone should spare a thought for the farmers who are going to feel a huge impact,” she said.

Featured image: Floods at Ingham, Queensland – March 2018. Credit: Tracey Castles





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