Queensland, Australia: Deadly, historic flooding is being replaced by much-needed dry spell

By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
By Adam Douty, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
February 10, 2019, 6:29:33 PM EST

Drier weather moved into Queensland, Australia, after days of record-setting rainfall, widespread flooding, road closures and evacuations.

The flooding turned deadly last Monday when two bodies were found in an Aitkenvale storm water drain, according to News9.

On Sunday, the search for a missing man was suspended for the third day after he fell from a boat on flood waters.

Up to 300,000 head of cattle have perished in western Queensland with losses estimated at $300 million.

Schools are slowly reopening and power has been reconnected to about 15,000 homes.

Relief from the devastating flooding will continue across the region through the week as drier air returns.

au 2/10

"There can be isolated showers and thunderstorms along and near the coast of eastern Queensland through the coming week," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Houk said, "but they are not expected to bring any major threats."

Recovery and cleanup operations will continue as the extended dry spell takes hold and floodwaters begin to recede in low-lying areas and along streams and smaller rivers.

3 long-term health dangers that flooding can pose to affected communities
Expert tips for preventing mold growth or remediating mold in your home after a flood
How to stay safe if you encounter wildlife after a flood
Watch this giant wall of dust sweep across rural town

Larger rivers, however, will be slow to recede and can remain out of their banks even on sunny days as runoff from the heavy rain drains downstream.

Residents and cleanup crews will have to deal with heat building through the week. Drinking plenty of water, wearing light clothing and taking frequent breaks can help to prevent heat-related illnesses.

Through the middle of the week, high temperatures can range from around 35 C (95 F) in Townsville to 38 C (100 F) in Carpentaria. Uncomfortable humidity will create even higher AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures.

Humidity levels are anticipated to fall away from the coast by the middle of the week, but more communities can record highs between 38 and 41 C (100 and 105 F).

Temperatures may soar above 41 C (105 F) in some locations west of Carpentaria.

With the building heat and high humidity, mold will rapidly become a significant problem in areas after floodwaters recede.

Before the floodwaters recede, residents will have to remain alert for possible sightings of crocodiles and snakes. The widespread flooding has also raised fears of sewage backups seeping into the floodwaters.

Standing water can also serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Disruptions to residents and motorists can last well after floodwaters recede. Roads and bridges may be left damaged or littered by debris.

In addition to the deaths, the flood disaster forced thousands of people to evacuate and impacted 20,000 homes in Townsville, according to news.com.au.

The Commonwealth and Queensland governments are working to support recovery efforts throughout the region.

“As well as breaking records for a region no stranger to wet seasons, the floodwaters have cut roads and power, damaged infrastructures such as water and sewerage lines and isolated vulnerable communities," Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

She described the event as "unprecedented" and compared it to a rainfall event in January 1998, when the remnants of Cyclone Sid dropped over 570 mm (20 inches) of rain in Townsville in under 10 hours. Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes as 3 meters (nearly 10 feet) of water rushed through the town.

During a nine-day stretch from Jan. 27 to Feb. 7, Townsville reported more than a year’s worth of rainfall.

During this time, 1413.4 mm (55.64 inches) of rain was reported in the city, causing historic flooding which has been called a once-in-a-century event.

Major flooding continues along many rivers across Queensland from near Townsville to Carpentaria and down to Diamantina Lakes.

On Thursday evening local time, the Flinders River at Richmond reached a record crest of 9.81 meters (32.19 feet). The previous record was 8.76 meters (28.74 feet) from 1974.

Podcast banner for news stories

Report a Typo


Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

More Weather News