Urgent Flood Warning As Dam Gates Fully Opened In Townsville
Residents must evacuate immediately to higher ground as the gates to the Ross River dam have opened fully, spewing 2000 cubic metres of water per second.
Heavy rainfall pushed the water level to a height in the dam that automatically opened the spillway gates to full at about 8.10pm local time.
Queensland Police issued the emergency advisory around 4.30pm local time, warning of "risk to life and property", "dangerous and high velocity flows" and "unprecedented" flooding.
The warning is for residents in Rosslea, Hermit Park, Railway Estate, Townsville City, Oonoonba, Idalia, Cluden, West End, Rowes Bay, Garbutt, Aitkenvale, Cranbrook, Currajong, Mysterton, Pimlico, Mundingburra, Douglas, Annandale, Kirwan and Thuringowa Central and South Townsville areas.
Low-lying areas have been deemed vulnerable to an onslaught of water and flood flooding should the gates be opened.
Police warn people in these areas should move to the 'highest level' before 8.30pm.
"The dam spillway gates may open to their full setting between the hours of 8.30pm tonight and 6am tomorrow," police said in a statement.
"This setting would release up to 2000 cubic metres of water per second out of the dam."
The partially opened dam gates are currently letting out 1000 cubic metres of water per second.
Police also moved to deny rumours on social media that officers had left the Townsville area.
Another metre of rain could fall in parts of Queensland in coming days, with flood evacuees in sodden Townsville nervously waiting to see just how far the water will rise.
The monsoon trough that's been dumping vast amounts of rain on the state's north for a week has rewritten Townsville's record books.
In just seven days, the city copped a staggering 1012mm, eclipsing the previous record of 886mm set on the city's so-called Night of Noah when vast swathes of the city went under back in 1998.
With up to 500 homes already under water in Townsville, forecasters have warned any real reprieve is days away.
Parts of north and central Queensland could get another half a metre to a metre of rain over the next few days.
With catchments already swollen, after a flood crisis that began in the Daintree River a week ago, that's a dire scenario.
In the space of a few short hours on Sunday, another intense downpour pushed up water levels in the city's swollen Ross River Dam up by almost 10 per cent, to 237 per cent of capacity.
With water levels at waist and chest height in some suburban
streets, local police chief and District Disaster Coordinator Steve Munro said the crisis was only half over.
If things go the city's way, the flood might not affect any or many more than the 400 to 500 properties already inundated.
But he warned: "It could move up to the 10,000, 20,000 (mark). That's the worst case scenario we're looking at if things keep going pear-shaped. We don't want to get to that stage."
The monsoon trough has brought driving rain to other parts of the state too, including drought-hit communities out west.
At Hughenden, properties are facing inundation and the forecast is for more major falls out there, as far as Mount Isa near the Northern Territory border.
Back on the east coast, communities from Ingham to Mackay, 500km away, are at risk of flash flooding and damaging winds, including the possibility of tornadoes.