Owen unleashes wettest December day on record in Australia

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
December 18, 2018, 7:55:35 AM EST

Tropical Cyclone Owen lashed parts of Australia with heavy rainfall for more than a week before weakening into a tropical low for what is expected to be the final time.

After first moving into northern Queensland as a tropical rainstorm last week, Owen tracked over the Gulf of Carpentaria and reintensified into a severe tropical cyclone late last week.

The storm reversed course and made its second landfall in Cape York Peninsula during the predawn hours of Saturday, local time.

Owen 12/17

Owen was a Category 3 severe tropical cyclone when it moved onshore between Kowanyama and the mouth of the Gilbert River on Friday. Its strength at that time was equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific oceans.

Despite weakening as it tracked southeast near the Queensland coastline over the weekend, the storm still produced severe flooding and travel disruptions.

In fact, the storm saved its most extreme weather for last as it unloaded historic rainfall on parts of Queensland.

The hamlet of Halifax in northern Queensland now claims the record for the wettest December day on record for the entire country of Australia following the weekend deluge, according to the Australia Bureau of Meteorology.

In a 24-hour period, 681 mm (26.81 inches) of rain fell on the community, causing widespread flooding.

The flooding had a devastating impact on livestock and agriculture in the region.

The rainfall was a mixed blessing, as areas that didn’t receive damaging flooding welcomed the drought relief brought by the downpours.

Some areas reported their heaviest daily rainfall in eight years, following one of the driest winter and spring periods in recent decades.

While the north-central coast of Queensland endured the heaviest rainfall, downpours spread all the way down the coast to Brisbane on Sunday and Monday.

Australia Weather Center
Interactive Australia weather satellite
South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Center

Rough seas and surf were reported even farther south to New South Wales, where two men drowned and a third was still missing as of Monday, according to ABC News.

While Owen once again weakened into a tropical low, it will spin just off the coast of Queensland the next several days, enhancing showers and thunderstorms.

Owen is not expected to strengthen into a tropical cyclone again this week; however, AccuWeather meteorologists will continue to monitor the tropical low for the risk of development and other impacts to Australia.

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