Flood-Ravaged North QLD Now Braces For Tornado
Rain and flooding in Queensland have "smashed" records as the state's north endures a one-in-100 year drenching.
In an emergency update on Sunday, the Bureau of Meteorology said some parts of the state had received more than 1000 mm of rain in the last seven days, and while rains have eased, officials are warning QLD is "not out of the woods yet".
The BOM warned of the possibility of a tornado forming, in addition to continuing rainfall, with severe wind gusts up to 100km/h.
"It's a rapidly fluctuating event."
"There is some chance of tornadoes forming," Bruce Gunn from the BOM told reporters on Sunday.
"We've used the cyclone siren a few times already in this event. We have applied that in short bursts when there are events of heavy rain," he said.
"We will continue to do that for the most intense of hazards as they occur."
Tornadoes are not uncommon in Australia, with the BOM reporting "dozens" of occurrences each year.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said schools in Halifax, Townsville and Giru that were closed on Friday will remain closed on Monday, and more could be shut as the trough moves further south.
"We are in unprecedented times. There is more rain to come," Palaszczuk said.
The army is on hand to assist in evacuations.
JusticeQLD said Townsville courts and registry would also be closed on Monday due to the continuing extreme weather.
More than 9,000 homes are still without power in Townsville.
Monsoonal conditions are predicted to continue in the area until at least Wednesday, with the slow-moving trough causing the persistence of rain.
Gunn said rain levels had now surpassed both the seven and 10 day all-time records of 876mm in 1988, and 925mm in 1953.
Authorities provided some good news for residents near the Ross River Dam with overnight rains not reaching predicted levels in the catchment.
However rainfall has maintained the same intensity, with some areas copping 300mm in just a few hours.
State Disaster Coordinator Bob Gee said weather risks would continue for at least the next couple of days and urged people to stay out of the water.
He said all state authorities have already put in place recovery plans which were "ready to go" once the immediate risk subsides.
"If you don’t have to be out on the roads please don't be," Palaszczuk said, urging residents to continue listening to warnings.
"Queensland is used to dealing with natural disaster... we have had so many over a short period of time," she said.
"The flooding event is going to a cause a lot of distress to a lot of people, my focus in the coming weeks will be to make sure we can recover".
More to come.
More than the annual rainfall has fallen on parts of north Queensland in the past week, creating a disaster area stretching 700 kilometres along the coast from Cairns to Mackay.
On Saturday night, 500 homes were at risk of going under in Townsville with tens of thousands more properties at risk if the north Queensland flood crisis worsens as expected.
Police, soldiers and emergency services spent Saturday door-knocking in Townsville to warn residents who have been advised to watch out for updates on the disaster.
"If the rain continues overnight and into tomorrow, if we keep going the way we are today, we are talking about 10,000 to 20,000 homes," Chief Superintendent Steve Munro told reporters.
The monsoonal deluge has been declared a catastrophe by the Insurance Council of Australia, with losses estimated at $16.7 million and the worst yet to come.
READ MORE: Townsville Floods Declared A "Catastrophe'
Disaster assistance has been extended for communities in Townsville, Charters Towers, Palm Island, Richmond and Burdekin, the Queensland government announced on Saturday night.
It will be delivered through the jointly funded Commonwealth-Queensland Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
About 100 homes were evacuated near the bulging Ross River dam as water was released, but it was back up to 216 per cent capacity by Saturday evening.
SES volunteers are seen rescuing residents in Rosslea, Townsville. Image: AAPPaul Shafer and his family lost two cars, a truck and a caravan when water was released from the dam, a risky move designed to spare the town from more widespread flooding.
He understood the decision but said it was demoralising to see the destruction at his Hermit Park park home.
"We have decided to stay rather than evacuate, we still have electricity but it will be a sleepless night ahead, that's for sure."
The rain and flash flooding began a week ago causing power and phone outages, closing roads and businesses and inundating homes.
Four tourists trapped in a car were rescued by a grazier in a helicopter after being stranded by the flooded Diamantina River near Middleton on Saturday.
Featured Image: AAP