North Queensland is bracing for “life-threatening flash flooding” as forecasters warn rainfall totals of up to 300mm could fall in just six hours on Tuesday, as ex-tropical cyclone Imogen continues to wreak havoc.
At least 12 rivers are on flood watch, hundreds of people are without power and dozens of roads have been cut after the former category 1 system crossed the coast near Karumba, in the Gulf, on Sunday night, dumping more than 260mm on Monday morning.
The system, the first tropical cyclone of the season, weakened to a tropical low on Monday morning; however, the Bureau of Meteorology warned heavy rainfall and damaging winds would continue for several days.
Normanton Airport in the Gulf recorded 262.6mm on Monday, Sweers Island received 223mm and Croydon measured 155.4mm as the system tracked east towards the North Tropical Coast.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning at 5am on Tuesday for people in Herbert and Lower Burdekin, parts of the North Tropical Coast and Tablelands, and Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders regions.
“A trough extends from ex-Imogen eastwards through the North Tropical Coast and Tablelands to the south of Innisfail and is forecast to slowly move southward during Tuesday,” the BOM warning said.
“Six-hourly rainfall totals between 150mm to 200mm are possible. Periods of localised intense rainfall leading to life-threatening flash flooding with six-hourly totals of 300mm about the coast and ranges in the warning are also possible.
“Locations which may be affected include Townsville, Ingham, Cardwell, Ayr, Giru, Atherton, Ravenshoe, Greenvale and Charters Towers.”
Hundreds of Ergon Energy customers in the Gulf are still without power on Tuesday morning; however, the company is bringing in additional equipment and reinforcement crews to restore the grid.
Meanwhile, dozens of roads are cut off due to flooding, with the Department of Transport and Main Roads urging Queenslanders to be sensible.
“More than half of Queensland’s flood-related deaths are a result of driving through floodwaters, so please, if it’s flooded, forget it,” a department spokesperson said.
The bureau has issued flood watches/warnings for the following rivers:
- Moderate flood warning for the Norman River and Flood Warning for the Gilbert River
- Moderate flood warning for the Thomson River
- Minor flood warning for the Bulloo River
- Minor flood warning for the Burdekin River
- Minor flood warning for the Georgina River
- Minor flood warning for the Lower Flinders River
- Minor flood warning for the Mulgrave and Russell Rivers
- Minor flood warning for the Paroo River (Queensland)
- Flood warning for the Diamantina River
- Flood watch for the North Tropical Coast between Cooktown and Ayr
- Initial minor flood warning for the Herbert River
- Initial minor flood warning for the Tully and Murray Rivers