Three women rescued while clinging to tree: NQ faces another 400mm drenching

Three women rescued after becoming stranded in floodwaters as Queensland’s north was battered by storms and heavy rain over the weekend are recovering from the ordeal.

Jan 16, 2023, updated Jan 16, 2023
As many as 400mm more rain is expected in Mackay(ABC News: Lillian Watkins)

As many as 400mm more rain is expected in Mackay(ABC News: Lillian Watkins)

The trio are being treated at Proserpine Hospital after they were found clinging to a tree in Palm Grove, north of Mackay, on Sunday afternoon.

People are being urged to take care travelling in central and northern Queensland with life-threatening flash flooding possible in the next 24 hours as heavy rain pummels the region after a weekend of wild weather.

The Bureau of Meteorology says six-hour rainfall totals of up to 180mm are likely in Mackay, Proserpine, Bowen, Collinsville, Hamilton Island and Ayr on Monday.

However, the coast and ranges north of Mackay could be pummelled with between 250mm and 400mm in the next 24 hours.

“Locally intense rainfall which may lead to dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding is also possible over far southeastern parts of the Herbert and Lower Burdekin coast and the Central Coast and Whitsundays,” the bureau said in an alert.

The forecaster said six-hour totals of up to 150mm are possible in parts of the Central Highlands and Coalfields district as well.

It follows days of wet weather with falls of 317mm recorded at Jubilee Pocket, 299mm at Peter Faust Dam, 252mm at Preston, 237mm at Bowen and 230mm at Proserpine.

Acting Premier Steven Miles says a number of people have been rescued from floodwaters or stranded by road closures, but there have been no lives lost.

He urged people to take care on the roads with a broader part of central and northern regions under active thunderstorm warnings on Monday.

“Of course today as people start to return from holidays and return from the weekend, there’ll be more people trying to travel around, so if you’re in that area please look out for warnings of course, do everything that’s asked,” Mr Miles told reporters in Maryborough.

“If the roads closed, if it’s flooded, forget it.”

Meanwhile, the three women rescued after becoming stranded in floodwaters north of Mackay are recovering from the ordeal.

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The women are being treated at Proserpine Hospital after they were found clinging to a tree in Palm Grove on Sunday afternoon.

The Bureau of Meteorlogy has issued broad flood watch and multiple flood warnings are current for the area covered by the severe weather warning.

“It really turns it on sometimes up north and we’ve got a really humid tropical air mass up there at the moment and a trough and all the areas sort of feeding into that trough,” senior forecaster Steve Hadley told ABC radio on Monday.

“Be aware that there is some flooding around over the next few days and that heavy rainfall as well.

“It should ease off towards the middle of the week.”

Although widespread heavy rain has eased north of Ayr, severe thunderstorms remain possible across the northeast tropics, including the Townsville area, the BOM said on Sunday.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services are urging residents to keep up to date with warnings and alerts and not to attempt to drive through floodwaters.

QFES received 72 calls for help in the 24 hours to 9am on Sunday.

Half related to flooding and the rest were for structural issues or trees down, a spokesman said.

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