Drivers could be stranded in their cars for days, as torrential rain smashes the Mackay and Townsville coasts and cuts off major transport routes.
Dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding is possible over the central coast and Whitsundays on Tuesday, with some regions set to reach 1000mm of rainfall as the state’s flooding crisis deepens.
Between 200 and 250mm of rain is likely to fall in some areas, particularly on the coast and ranges north of Mackay to Nebo.
A severe weather warning is in place, with flood warnings impacting Mackay, Proserpine, Bowen, Collinsville, Hamilton Island, Sarina, Nebo, Eungella and Airlie Beach.
A queue of traffic banked up on the Bruce Highway. Picture: FacebookDrivers were stranded on the Bruce Highway as floodwaters rose at Goorganga Plains. Picture: Queensland Police
Hundreds of residents fleeing surging floodwaters became trapped in their cars on Monday, as the water level overwhelmed parts of the Bruce Highway.
At least 20 motorists were stranded for hours after a road closed sign was moved near Goorganga Plains, while at least a hundred more spent the night sleeping on the floor of Bowen PCYC.
Dozens of trucks and motorists are queued in Proserpine waiting for the Bruce Highway to open after being cut by flood waters. Whitsundays airport now cancelling all inbound flights with roads in and out of Airlie Beach inundated. @TheTodayShowpic.twitter.com/v3k9rvagGI
— Mia Glover (@miaglover_9) January 16, 2023
Police have told drivers to prepare to be stuck in their cars until Thursday, with food drops scheduled for the coming days.
Local supermarkets are falling short of fresh produce, as major transport routes are blocked by floodwaters.
Crocodiles were reported floating down the Proserpine River and flushing out into the ocean at nearby Wilson Beach.
Proserpine recorded its wettest 48 hours in 32 years over the weekend after 483mm of rainfall.
A mudslide was captured rushing down the Eungella Range at Pioneer Valley in a dramatic video shared to social media on Monday.
The Bureau of Meteorology has issued several warnings as heavy rainfall continues to drench the region.
The Eungella Range in Mackay was closed as mudslides rushed across the road. Picture: Facebook
“The main thing to watch is that it’s a dynamic situation, an escalating and deteriorating situation,” Senior meteorologist Felim Hanniffy told Sky News.
“Obviously, when you get sustained multiple days of heavy to local intense rainfall, this is also going to bring the risk of life-threatening flash flooding as well.”
Fruit, vegetables and bread all in short supply in North Queensland with the Bruce Highway cut in multiple locations. This Mackay grocery store is hoping for a double order tomorrow. ðŸ¤žðŸ» Up to 500mm of rain forecast over the next 24 hours. @[email protected]/brp2FhgljY
— Bianca Stone (@Bianca_Stone) January 16, 2023
An 18-year-old flood record was broken on Hamilton Island where 234mm of rain fell in just 24 hours.
Flood watch and warnings
The bureau has issued several flood watches and warnings for the following areas:
- Flood watch: Lower Herbert and Central Coast catchments
- Major flood warning: Georgina River and Eyre Creek
- Major flood warning: Pioneer River
- Moderate flood warning: Don River
- Moderate flood warning: Haughton River Catchment
- Moderate flood warning: Cape River
- Minor flood warning: Suttor and lower Burdekin Rivers
- Moderate flood warning: Flinders River
- Minor flood warning: Connors-Isaac River Catchments
- Minor flood warning: Herbert River
- Minor flood warning: Norman and Gilbert rivers
- Minor flood warning: for the Thomson and Barcoo Rivers and Cooper Creek
- Flood warning: Diamantina River
- Final flood warning: Ross and Bohle rivers