Two Rescuers Rescued During Queensland Floods
Townsville families who've fled their homes are nervously waiting to see just how far flood waters will rise after unprecedented releases from the city's swollen dam.
Soldiers, police and SES workers patrolled at-risk parts of the city overnight, helping people move from vulnerable homes.
Two police officers who were evacuating people in the suburb of Hermit Park had to be rescued themselves when fast rising waters left them clinging to trees and washed away their patrol car.
Two other people were plucked to safety from the roof of their car at Hyde Park nearby.
Rainfall in the Townsville area wasn't as bad as feared overnight.
But Bureau of Meteorology has estimated that a further 450mm of rain will have fallen over the Ross River Dam catchment in the 24 hours to 9am on Monday.
At 4am on Monday, the dam was sitting at 242 per cent of capacity, despite an order last night to fully open its flood gates and double the amount of water being released to almost 2000 cubic metres per second.
BOM update 4:54am - Further heavy rainfall with 6-hourly rainfall totals between 150mm to 200mm are likely. Concentrated areas of intense rainfall with totals up to 300mm possible.— Townsville Council (@TCC_News) February 3, 2019
Possible damaging wind gusts up to 100km/h about the coast and ranges.https://t.co/2cJyXadXif
That order sparked warnings that 21 suburbs could see flash flooding, including high velocity flows that could kill people.
One of the city's five evacuation centres is now full and unable to accept any more evacuees, and crocodiles have been spotted outside suburban homes.
Floodwaters are also full of snakes, with authorities telling people they must stay out of the water.
A decision will be made early on Monday about whether to reopen the city's airport after all flights were cancelled late on Sunday.
The premier is in the disaster zone, as other parts of the state brace for possible flooding.
It's still raining in Townsville, but falls there weren't as bad as forecasters had feared.
It's unclear how many more homes may have been inundated. On Sunday the figure was between 400 and 500, but that was before dam releases were doubled.
There are fears thousands of others could have been inundated overnight.
BOM FLOOD WARNING 5.42am FEB 4: Coastal catchments from Daintree to Mackay, western Cape York Peninsula & Gulf of Carpentaria catchments. Major Flood Warning: Flinders, Cloncurry &Leichhardt Rivers | Haughton River | Ross River | Upper Burdekin River— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) February 3, 2019
The trough that's been dumping flooding rain on north Queensland's east coast, and drought-hit parts of western Queensland, will drive the state's emergency for days to come.
Intense rain with significant flash flooding is expected between Ingham and Bowen, and possibly as far south as Mackay, extending inland to Mt Isa near the Northern Territory border.
Authorities have also warned of the potential for tornado-strength winds, and have observed offshore tornadoes but so far tornadoes have not been seen in coastal communities.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has gone to the disaster zone and is expected to provide an update from Townsville at about 6.30am.