South-east Queensland has been smashed by heavy rain that has closed around 2000 schools, prompted companies to send workers home early and seen emergency services perform 40 swift-water rescues.
Parts of Brisbane and the Gold and Sunshine coasts copped a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours, and it’s not over yet, with the worst of the deluge from ex-cyclone Debbie still to come.
NSW is next in the firing line, with wild weather predicted from northern NSW as far south as Sydney, resulting from a combination of ex-cyclone Debbie and an intense cold front further south.
Kedron Brook in flood, just 8km from the Brisbane CBD (Source: Phil Martin)
Brisbane’s average March rainfall is 110 millimetres, and the weather bureau says parts of the city have already seen more than that in the past day.
“For Brisbane, we’ve seen over 100 millimetres in some areas and 250 millimetres in parts of the Gold Coast hinterland, so the rainfall is ongoing,” Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecaster Matthew Bass told reporters.
Some parts of Brisbane received nearly 50 millimetres of rain in a single hour between 7.30am and 8.30am, with forecasters predicting 400 millimetres could fall on the city over 24 hours.
The storm also sparked 2800 calls for help across the state, particularly in the southeast where people are sandbagging properties and calling for help with leaking roofs.
The Queensland government also took the unprecedented step of closing around 2000 schools stretching from Agnes Waters south of Gladstone, down the the NSW border, which will remain closed on Friday.
All guests and over 100 staff have been evacuated from Daydream Island in the Whitsundays.
The defence force delivered food, fuel and water to the Island earlier on Thursday, while local ferries were organised to get guests back to the mainland.
The Island thanked staff in a statement, saying they were now carrying out assessments, but expected to be closed for business for at least a month.
Mr Bass said the system will increase throughout Thursday afternoon and overnight.
“So the rainfall is ongoing and the damaging winds are still expected along the coast with gusts in excess of 90km/h and potentially in excess of 125km/h through elevated terrain and some of those coastal areas.”
The system is expected to dump nearly 500 millimetres of rain on some elevated areas of the Gold and Sunshine coasts over the next 24 hours, which will feed into catchments and increase potential flash flooding.
The government also urged businesses across south-east Queensland to close early, with public transport was made free from 10am.
— Chris Bartlett (@bartman6) March 29, 2017
Meanwhile, residents of northern NSW have been ordered to evacuate ahead of major flooding.
BOM said major flooding was forecast along the Tweed River where almost 400 millimetres of rain fell just 24 hours.
The state is forecast to see winds averaging 65km/h, with gusts or more than 90km/h and rainfall of at least 100 millimetres in many parts of the state, with some areas of NSW forecast to received more than 300 millimetres.