Severe and dangerous storms are lashing an already drenched southern Queensland as an east coast low bears south towards northern New South Wales.
The wild weather has soaked communities with up to 100 millimetres of rain in an hour, catching people off guard and causing dangerous traffic conditions.
Paramedics were called to house in Burpengary, north of Brisbane, amid reports a 16-year-old girl was struck by lightning.
The Queensland Ambulance Service are yet to confirm if the teen has been struck or injured.
Resident Matt Broderick said conditions north of Brisbane were very dangerous, with the area near Morayfield Shopping Centre completely water logged.
“It’s pretty hairy here around Burpengary,” he said.
“It’s terrible to drive. We’ve made it through but the Bruce Highway is absolutely at a standstill and there’s lightning strikes about every 15-20 seconds.”
North of Bundaberg a woman had to be rescued from her flooded vehicle this afternoon and four people were injured in a pile-up on the M1 at Yatala south of Brisbane.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued a severe storm warning for south-east Queensland warning very dangerous, slow-moving thunderstorms were detected on weather radar near Caboolture, Beerwah, Peachester, Crohamhurst, Maleny and Montville.
They are forecast to affect Narangba, Burpengary, Landsborough, Mapleton, Kallangur, Wamuran and areas near, and to the north-west, of Mapleton.
Rainfall totals of more than 100mm per hour have already been recorded in the area.
Another severe storm warning was issued by the BoM for areas from Wide Bay to the south-east coast and west to the Granite Belt.
Coastal areas could see isolated falls of up to 300mm.
Seqwater advised Gold Creek dam in Brisbane’s outer west had begun to spill.
BoM Queensland regional director Rob Webb said rain should contract towards the Gold Coast later tonight and was expected to increase as the low moves south.
A Flood Warning was issued for the Tweed River and rivers along the coast from Maryborough extending into northern NSW as far south Nelson Bay.
“With such heavy falls there is the potential for flooding, and we may see rapid rises of creeks and rivers,” Mr Webb said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urged people to stay out of flood waters and stay indoors tonight.
“If you do not have to go outside tonight, please don’t. It is the safest place to be,” she said.
SES volunteers flown in to help northern NSW
The system is moving south towards NSW Northern Rivers and Mid North Coasts regions, where gusts of 100 kilometres per hour are forecast to develop tonight.
A severe weather warning was issued for Northern Rivers, Mid North Coast and Northern Tablelands.
The BoM warned very heavy surf conditions could push water levels to meet or exceed the highest tide of the year during this evening’s high tide.
NSW State Emergency Services (SES) deputy commissioner Steve Pearce said crews from Victoria and South Australia had been flown into northern NSW to help local volunteers.
“They’re supported by NSW SES from all over the state, and also firefighters from the Rural Fire Service and the firefighters from Fire and Rescue NSW – so a literal army just waiting for this east coast low,” he said.
“We’ve pushed a significant amount of resources up there into northern NSW at the moment, including a flood rescue operator, helicopters, additional flood boats and hundreds of personnel.”
Mr Pearce said crews were also still busy in the Hunter region, which was hit by devastating storms that left four people dead and caused widespread destruction last week.
The NSW SES said it had received 59 requests for assistance in the state’s North and Mid North coast regions by 10:00am.
The worst-affected areas were the Karuah Valley and Coffs Harbour, with leaking roofs the main issue, the SES said.
In Queensland, SES volunteers have received more than 100 requests for assistance since 5:00pm on Thursday.
They were mainly for leaking roofs and sandbagging assistance in the Brisbane, North Coast and south-east regions.
Also in Queensland, about 1,500 sandbags were distributed at a Brisbane City Council depot at Newmarket.
Local resident Robert Glazebrook said he was feeling anxious.
“A little bit, not sure what’s going to happen in the next few days and once we’re waterlogged and we get more rain anything can happen, so it’s best to be prepared,” he said.
Wild weather closes beaches; Gold Coast flights cancelled
The BOM said the low was likely to generate large swells causing dangerous surf about the Fraser Island, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast beaches.
The dangerous surf conditions were likely to produce significant beach erosion for these areas.
Water levels in these areas could exceed the highest tide of the year by around half a metre on Friday evening’s high tide.
Most Sunshine Coast beaches are closed, while all Gold Coast beaches have been shut.
Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) chief lifeguard Greg Cahill said the surf conditions along Queensland’s coastline could be “deceptively dangerous” following days of heavy rain and winds.
“The surf conditions over the next couple of days are likely to be unstable and unpredictable, so it’s really important that people continue to put their safety first at all times and only swim at patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flags,” he said.
“The same goes for rivers, river mouths, estuaries and streams which could all be experiencing similarly hazardous conditions across the weekend.”
On the Sunshine Coast, gale-force winds are whipping up big seas with an 11-metre wave recorded off Mooloolaba this morning.
Mr Cahill said lifeguards would continue to monitor conditions closely over the coming days and would reopen beaches only if and when conditions were deemed safe to do so.
The weather also dislodged a shark control net at Marcoola Beach.
“We are monitoring the equipment across the Sunshine Coast and in particular, the net at Mooloolaba, as one end has let go,” Queensland Shark Control Program manager Jeff Krause said.
“Also, large waves are breaking on the nets at Rainbow Beach and we are concerned these may wash ashore.
“Nets and drum lines that are loose in the water can be very dangerous for boaties and swimmers, so we ask that people follow lifesaving service warnings about staying out of the water.”
Meanwhile, Virgin Australia has cancelled a number of flights to and from the Gold Coast ahead of the heavy rain and strong winds expected to lash the city this afternoon and this evening.
- Move vehicles under cover or away from trees.
- Secure or put away loose items around your house, yard and balcony.
- Keep clear of fallen power lines.
- Don’t drive, ride or walk through flood water.
- Keep clear of creeks and storm drains.
- If you are trapped by flash flooding, seek refuge in the highest available place and ring 000 if you need rescue.
One inbound flight from Sydney was diverted to Brisbane this morning.
Nine other flights from Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra that were due to land at Coolangatta between 4:00pm and 11:00pm were cancelled.
Five flights that were scheduled to leave the Gold Coast for those cities were also cancelled.
In Coffs Harbour, the Touch Football World Cup has been suspended because of fears players could be hit by lightning.
About 3,000 athletes and supporters are in the northern NSW city for the event, which has taken four years of planning.