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Heavy monsoon rains drench Queensland, causing widespread floods, Australia


A nearly stationary monsoonal low close to the Gulf of Carpentaria is driving very humid air toward Queensland, with heaviest rains in the state's northeast and tropical coast. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has issued several flood warnings on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, as rains inundated streets and prompted school closures. The rains have finally ended months of dry conditions across the state.

  • BOM also warned that severe thunderstorms may produce life-threatening flash flooding.
  • Rita Island saw 529 mm (21 inches) of rain in 24 hours– over three months' worth of the area's average January rain in one day.

Widespread monsoonal rains hit most of the north, central, and western Queensland over the past weekend, with flood warnings issued for a number of rivers.

According to BOM, a major flood warning is in place for the Flinders River, and moderate warnings for the rivers Norman, Paroo, Thomson, Barcoo, and Cooper Creek.

Minor flood warnings are in effect for rivers Cloncurry, Cape, Upper Herbert, and Wallam and Mungallala Creeks.

Furthermore, a severe weather warning for heavy rain and flash flooding is also in effect across the Gulf County. A severe thunderstorm warning with flash flooding is in place for the Herbert and Lower Burdekin region.

"Severe thunderstorms are likely to produce intense rainfall that may lead to dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding," BOM said.

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Due to the heavy downpour, streets were inundated in Burdekin, cutting traffic to several roads and key highways. In addition, a number of schools closed on the supposed first day of classes for this year.

Among the schools that canceled classes on Tuesday were Home Hill State School, Home Hill State High School, Airville State School, Jarvisfield State School, Kalamia State School, Brandon State School, and Osborne State School. 

On Monday, January 27, more than 100 mm (4 inches) of rain fell on Townsville and Gregory Downs in south Burketown.

Meanwhile, Rita Island registered 529 mm (21 inches) of rain in 24 hours, which is equivalent to more than three months of the area's average January rain in one day.

Townsville mayor Jenny Hill said the weather is "acting like a typical wet season" where residents see downpours with significant breaks in between.

She compared it to the damaging rains in February 2019, saying, "Last year, we didn't have those breaks; it just kept raining and raining and raining. So far, it's pretty much business as usual."

A 63-year-old man had to be rescued by the police in the town on Tuesday after getting stuck in his car at Giru.

Meanwhile, Rita Island registered 529 mm (21 inches) of rain in 24 hours, which is equivalent to more than three months of the area's average January rain in one day.

"We have a monsoonal low close to the Gulf of Carpentaria; it’s near stationary and is driving this very humid north-westerly that’s pumping in the moisture," said Sky News Weather channel meteorologist Tom Saunders.

"The heaviest falls are in northeast Queensland and the Queensland tropical coast."

Saunders added that the deluge is likely to continue until Friday, January 31, in northern Queensland– with heavier rain yet to fall on top of the torrential rain that has already drenched the region.

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Image credit: JMA/Himawari-8, RAMMB/CIRA. Acquired January 28, 2020 at 06:30 UTC

Featured image credit: @bwilson_71/Twitter


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