Flash flood emergency as torrential rain batters SEQ

Storm warnings

Torrential rainfall has battered south-east Queensland overnight as another major weather emergency unfolds with potentially “dangerous and life-threatening” flooding.

Heavy and intense rain continued to fall on Tuesday morning in areas from Gympie to the NSW border, taking in Brisbane and the Gold and Sunshine coasts.

Hundreds of millimetres were dumped on the Gold Coast hinterland on News Year’s Day and night, with one weather station at Tomewin, on the NSW border, recording 585 millimetres between 9am Monday and 4am Tuesday.

There was also major rainfall at Currumbin Creek, which has been slammed by 600 millimetres since 9am Monday.

Dozens of people have been rescued across the Gold Coast and northern NSW, including 44 campers whose tents and vehicles were engulfed or washed away by a rapidly rising creek on a private campground on the Gold Coast.

Five people were rescued from vehicles caught in dangerous floodwaters in Queensland, while on the NSW side of the border SES volunteers completed 27 rescues in the Northern Rivers.

In the 24 hours to Tuesday, NSW SES responded to more than 115 incidents.

Josh Northeast and his friends were camping south of the Gold Coast on New Year’s Eve when they were caught unaware by dangerous floodwaters raging through the site.

“Maddy got swept down the river, saved by some neighbouring campers who cut her out of the tent,” he wrote in Facebook.

“We waited on the roof of Luke’s car while we waited for emergency crews to come and rescue us on boat.

“I lost my car and all our camp gear, but at least we came out safe. Happy New Year.”

Unrelenting rain

Heavy rain slamming south-east Queensland is expected to persist into Tuesday, with warnings for flash flooding.

There are similar warnings for the Wide Bay and Burnett regions.

“Three to six-hourly rainfall totals between 100 and 200 millimetres are likely, with isolated 24-hourly totals exceeding 350 millimetres possible,” said a BOM bulletin issued on Tuesday morning.

“Localised intense rainfall leading to dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding is possible during this period, with six-hourly rainfall totals between 150 and 250 millimetres possible.”

BOM said the showers and thunderstorms were “hit-and-miss” and it was difficult to predict their movement and timing.

Locations that may be affected include Gold Coast, Brisbane, Maroochydore, Caboolture, Coolangatta, Ipswich, Moreton Island, Noosa Heads, Cleveland, Jimboomba, Mount Tamborine, Woodford, and Redcliffe.

“This situation continues to be dangerous and dynamic,” meteorologist Miriam Bradbury said.

Nindooinbah Dam, west of the Gold Coast, and Leslie Harrison Dam, in Brisbane’s south-east, have started spilling excess water. Seqwater has cautioned residents downstream to avoid potential hazards such as fast-flowing or deep water near waterways and flood plains.

Queensland authorities said forecast rainfall indicated that releases may be required from the North Pine and Somerset dams within the next 24-48 hours.

Severe thunderstorms and flash flooding are also possible in NSW’s far north coast, mainly in the morning.

The rain is expected to become patchier later in the day as the weather system moves south towards Victoria. There is the possibility of isolated showers along NSW’s southern and central coast.

“The flood threat hasn’t completely abated as we continue to see rises across the various catchments,” the NSW SES said.

“Further warnings are likely throughout the day as water moves along the Tweed River towards Tumbulgum and the Richmond River moves towards Coraki and surrounds, possibly exceeding minor flood levels on Tuesday night.

“The Wilsons River at Lismore is currently below minor levels but still rising. It may reach the minor level of 4.2 metres on Tuesday morning.

“Minor flooding is still possible on the Tweed River at Chinderah coinciding with the high tide this afternoon.”

Residents of Tumbulgum, in northern NSW, were urged to prepare to be isolated by floodwater late on Monday amid moderate flooding.

Further south in Lismore, emergency authorities advised people to stay informed about potentially dangerous flooding on the Wilsons River.

NSW SES Assistant Commissioner Dean Storey ESM said while the intense rainfall experienced Monday was not expected on Tuesday, the risk remained.

“Catchments in and around the northern rivers continue to see the impacts of significant rainfall over the past 24 to 48 hours, and we’re expecting flood warnings to continue across the region,” he said.

“People in the northern rivers should heed the direction emergency services on the ground, never drive through floodwaters and avoid unnecessary travel today.”

-with AAP

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