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And the river will rise: Flood warning for the Pioneer

WHAT WE KNOW

  • Major flood warning for the Pioneer River as Cyclone Debbie tracks south
  • Some evacuations have taken place
  • The Bureau has labelled Debbie the most significant cyclone to hit Queensland since Category 5 Cyclone Yasi in 2011
  • More than 60,000 without power through Mackay, Whitsundays.

UPDATE 7.25pm: 

JUST as you think Cyclone Debbie has passed, like a horrible ex, she is still tormenting Mackay as Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie. 

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe storm warning for Mackay. 

This goes with a major flood warning for the Pioneer River at Mirani and a minor flood warning for Mackay. 

The storm warning issued, states there is chance of more destructive winds for Mackay all the way down to Emerald. 

BOM meteorologist James Thompson said Mackay was currently experiencing what is called the "training effect". 

The "training effect" is when a system circulates over the one area, Mackay receives the rains from the moisture the system collects over the seas in the north. 

The system then heads out west, then north again before heading east to gather more moisture to dump on Mackay. 

This was forecast to continue until Thursday afternoon. 

The Mackay radar depicts the
The Mackay radar depicts the "training effect".

The current flood warning states: 

Renewed rises and moderate flood levels are occurring in Blacks Creek at Whitefords. Moderate flood levels are falling at Finch Hatton on Cattle Creek. Further downstream, minor flood levels are falling in the lower Pioneer between Dumbleton Rocks and Hospital Bridge. River height readings at Sarich's and Mirani Weir are currently unreliable.

There are currently no observations at Mirani. It is expected that the river level at Mirani is currently just above the major flood level (9.0 metres). Small renewed rises are likely during Wednesday evening as upstream floodwater arrives and rainfall continues.

The Pioneer River at Mackay is currently at 6.80 metres and falling. The river level in the Pioneer River at Mackay is expected to peak around the minor flood level (7.00 metres) on the high tide overnight Wednesday. Higher levels are possible if heavy rainfall continues across the catchment.

Cyclone Debbie hasn't finished with Mackay just yet.
Cyclone Debbie hasn't finished with Mackay just yet.

The current severe storm warning states: 

Severe thunderstorms are likely to produce damaging winds and heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding over the next several hours in the Central Coast and Whitsundays and parts of the Herbert and Lower Burdekin, Central Highlands and Coalfields and Capricornia districts. Locations which may be affected include Emerald, Mackay, Proserpine, Bowen, Blackwater and Hamilton Island. 

Severe thunderstorms are likely to produce destructive winds over the next several hours in parts of the Central Highlands and Coalfields district. Locations which may be affected include Blackwater, Duaringa and Comet. 

 

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services advises that people should: 
* Move your car under cover or away from trees. 
* Secure loose outdoor items. 
* Never drive, walk or ride through flood waters. If it's flooded, forget it. 
* Seek shelter, preferably indoors and never under trees. 
* Avoid using the telephone during a thunderstorm. 
* Beware of fallen trees and powerlines. 
* For emergency assistance contact the SES on 132 500.

 

 

EARLIER:

AS the region continues to be whipped with wild winds as Cyclone Debbie tracks south, a new threat has emerged for the people of Mackay and surrounds.

Major flood levels are expected to be occurring on the Pioneer River at Mirani.

A warning was issued late Tuesday.

The Daily Mercury understands residents in the Cremorne area were door knocked overnight and told to evacuate due to flooding concerns.

The unusual heights of the Pioneer River

The height of the Pioneer River is anything but normal this Wednesday morning.
The height of the Pioneer River is anything but normal this Wednesday morning. BOM

UPDATE 8am: 

THE Pioneer River is brown, has debris flowing down it and very full despite being three and a half hours from a high tide. 

There has been widespread rainfalls between 200-500mm all over the Pioneer River Catchment with some isolated areas receiving between 800-1000mm. 

This rain has continued to run south creating major flood warnings for Mirani and Sarich's Weir, moderate flood warnings at Blacks Creek at Whitefords and Cattle Creek at Finch Hatton. 

Widespread rainfall totals of 200-500 mm have been recorded over the Pioneer River catchment in the past 48 hours, with locally heavier falls of 800-1000 mm recorded over the ranges.

The Pioneer River is current 6.55m high at the Forgan Bridge, which is 3.05m under the bridge with the water level still rising for a 5.8m high tide at 11.33am. 

EARLIER 5am: 

Flood Warning Number: 8

Moderate flood levels are possible at Mackay late Wednesday morning, and major flood levels are expected to be continuing at Mirani.

Heavy rainfall will continue during Wednesday morning, but is expected to begin easing during Wednesday afternoon.

Pioneer river burst its banks near Mackay Hospital

Pioneer River:
Major flood levels are continuing in the Pioneer River at Sarich's and Mirani Weir, and moderate flood levels are continuing in Blacks Creek at Whitefords and Cattle Creek at Finch Hatton.

The catchment is currently saturated and rivers and creeks will respond quickly to any further rainfall.

There are currently no observations at Mirani. It is expected that the river level at Mirani is above the major flood level (9.0 metres) and near a peak of 11.0 metres. Major flooding is expected to continue during Wednesday morning.

The Pioneer River at Mackay is currently at 6.50 metres and rising. The flood peak may coincide with the high tide in the Pioneer River at Mackay, and if this happens, the river level may reach around the moderate flood level (8.00 metres) late on Wednesday morning.

The river level may reach the minor flood level (7.00 m) again on the high tide overnight Wednesday into Thursday.

Flood Safety Advice:
Remember: If it's flooded, forget it. For flood emergency assistance contact the SES on 132 500. For life threatening emergencies, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.

EARLIER 1am:

Residents were told to move vehicles to higher ground and to evacuate their homes by 11pm.

The action has been instigated by the Mackay Local Disaster Management Group after receiving information from the Bureau of Meteorology on the flooding threat.

Widespread rainfall totals of 100-200 mm were recorded over the Pioneer River catchment, with locally heavier falls of 330-460 mm recorded in the 24 hours to 9:00 am Tuesday. In the 12 hours to 9:00 pm Tuesday, widespread falls of 50-150 mm have been recorded, with local falls of up to 550 mm over the ranges.

Where?

Major flood levels are occurring in the Pioneer River at Sarich's and Mirani Weir, Cattle Creek at Finch Hatton and moderate flood levels are occurring in Blacks Creek at Whitefords.

Rapid river and creek level rises are likely in the upper catchment where the rainfall is heaviest.

There are currently no observations at Mirani. It is expected that the river level at Mirani is above the major flood level (9.0 metres) and continuing to rise. Major flooding is expected to continue overnight Tuesday into Wednesday.

The Pioneer River at Mackay is currently at 5.35 metres and rising. The river level is likely to reach around 7.50 metres overnight Tuesday into Wednesday. Similar levels are again likely on the high tide early Wednesday afternoon. Higher levels are possible but dependent on heavy rainfall continuing.

Pioneer River march 28.
Pioneer River march 28.

There is also a moderate Flood Warning for the Connors and Isaac Rivers and Flood Warning for Theresa Creek and a Major Flood Warning for the Don River and Flood Warning for the Proserpine River.

UPDATE 1.25pm Tuesday: 

THE PIONEER River has continued to swallow up bridges in the Mackay region.

The Glenella Connection Rd Bridge is now 0.36m underwater and it is more than 3m underwater at Dumbleton Rocks.

The Forgan Bridge is still above the watermark by 3.4m.

But despite the 5.9m high tide being more than two hours ago, there's no need to be complacent with a storm surge expected with the onshore winds pushing more water into the catchment.

CYCLONE DEBBIE MAKES LANDFALL

Also, since Cyclone Debbie has hit landfall the wind and rain has intensified in Mackay with 10mm in the past 45 minutes and wind gusts up to 93kmhr.

The Dumbleton Weir is still rising which feeds into the Pioneer River 


EARLIER 11.50am:

THE PIONEER River is now over the bridge at Glenella Connection Rd as the storm surge continues to increase in the Mackay region.

The river is currently half a metre above the bridge on Glenella Connection Rd.

This is just after high tide at Mackay but as the winds increase as Cyclone Debbie nears landfall, creating more water in the Pioneer catchment as waves fight against the outgoing tide.

This fight is also combining with water trying to run out of the catchment as there has been more than 200mm of rain recorded around the region since Cyclone Debbie formed.

THE MOST DRAMATIC VIDEOS OF CYCLONE DEBBIE

Meanwhile, the Pioneer River is just 2.95m below the Forgan Bridge and 0.93m below at the Gooseponds Bridge.

 

 

The high tide and swells has surf spray splashing over the Marina breakwater wall where it is jam packed full of boats, hunkered down for protection.

People are driving out to the marina at their own risk, with trees bringing down power lines on Harbour Rd and the traffic lights at the intersection with Evan Ave not working.

There are also large trees down in the centre of Mackay with a large fig tree closing East Gordon St at the intersection with Brisbane St. 

A large fig tree has closed East Gordon St and Brisbane St intersection.
A large fig tree has closed East Gordon St and Brisbane St intersection. Campbell Gellie

Sarina Beach has already seen the effects of the high tide and storm surge duo, with water and foam overtaking the surrounding streets and parks.

EARLIER 9.15am:

SKY News Chief Meteorologist Tom Saunders said the weather in Mackay would continue today with wind gusts of more than 90kmhr and continual rain for the rest of the day.

He said as Cyclone Debbie was heading between Ayr and Midge Point, most likely Bowen, the threats of a storm surge in Mackay were the same as they were last night.

"Because it is a slow moving cyclone with gusts over 90km record in Mackay there won't be a lot of change in Mackay's weather until tonight," he said. 

"The storm surge possibility is still there but we won't know for a couple of hours how high it will be."
 

He said when Cyclone Debbie hits the coast it was possible Mackay could experience stronger winds but it wouldn't be a huge increase.

Unlike Hamilton Island which has recorded wind gusts of 220 and it is not directly in the path of the cyclone.

He also said, those places in the direct path of Cyclone Debbie could be in the eye for up to eight hours.

"It is travelling at 6kmhr and has an eye that is 50km wide," he said.

"That means people could potentially have destructive weather from the south, calm weather for eight hours and then destructive weather from the north."

The height of the Pioneer River is going up.
The height of the Pioneer River is going up. BOM

Latest River Heights:   Location Height of River (m) Tendency Date/Time of Observation   Teemburra Ck at Teemburra Dam HW Alert 0.25 Steady 04:04 AM TUE 28/03/17   Blacks Ck at Whitefords Alert 2.84 Rising 04:33 AM TUE 28/03/17   Pioneer R at Sarichs Alert 5.86 Rising 04:41 AM TUE 28/03/17   Finch Hatton Ck at Dam Site TM 2.73 Rising 12:20 AM TUE 28/03/17   Cattle Ck at Finch Hatton Alert 2.86 Falling 04:32 AM TUE 28/03/17   Cattle Ck at Frank Neilsen Br TM 3.50 Rising 12:00 AM TUE 28/03/17   Pioneer R at Mirani Weir HW TM 47.58 Rising 04:00 AM TUE 28/03/17   Pioneer R at Mirani Weir TW Alert 5.34 Rising 04:41 AM TUE 28/03/17   Pioneer R at Marian Weir Alert 1.51 Rising 04:40 AM TUE 28/03/17   Pioneer R at Dumbleton Rocks Alert 16.00 Rising 04:40 AM TUE 28/03/17   Pioneer R at Hospital Br Alert 4.50 Falling 04:06 AM TUE 28/03/17   Pioneer R at Mackay Alert 3.20 Falling 04:30 AM TUE 28/03/17   Outer Harbour Tide TM 1.86 Rising 03:48 AM TUE 28/03/17  

Wave Heights as a result of Cyclone Debbie have increased to up to 8m.
Wave Heights as a result of Cyclone Debbie have increased to up to 8m. BOM

LATEST TRACKING MAP HERE

EARLIER 8.30am:

THE storm surge is about to hit Mackay and how high it is will determine if thousands of people's homes are flooded or more, up to 25,000.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart told Mackay residents in low lying areas, that is those who live up to 2.5m above the highest astronomical tide, to evacuate as the storm surge would hit this morning.

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The storm surge will be created by the prevailing onshore winds bringing 8m waves and pushing water against the high tide.

This is on top of more than 150mm of rain in the past two days.

The Bureau of Meteorology is warning people in areas likely to be affected by this flooding to take measures to protect their property and follow instructions regarding evacuations if advised to do so by the authorities.

Late yesterday Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Mr Stewart urged people in Mackay Regional Council's Green, Red and Orange low lying areas to evacuate.

"That modelling, we believe has now been superseded, meaning that now BOM have provided us with some greater clarification as a result of their latest track maps," he said.

Download the council maps here

"BOM tell us that the range of inundation maybe up as much as 0.8m or as much as 2.5m.

"We are asking people that can move out of those low lying areas, depicted on the council maps to move now, don't wait until tomorrow because you will not be able to move probably not after midnight (Monday)."

Tide times

  • 0456am 0.55m low tide
  •  
  • 1054am 5.93m high tide
  •  
  • 522pm 0.45m low
  •  
  • 1120pm 5.76m high

Mayor region mayor and Mackay Disaster Management Group coordinator Greg Williamson confirmed said there were 25,000 Mackay residents in low lying areas asked to evacuate and a further 5000 from the Whitsunday region.

"The rapidly changing track of this cyclone means we can expect a storm surge of between 0.8 and 2m in the worse case scenario," he said.

"The premier says we need to prepare for the worse case scenario," which is expected to be this morning.

"(So) the Disaster Management Group has given the advice that 25,000 people in the red, orange and green zones should evacuate."

To see the flood inundation maps head to the council's emergency management webpage.

 

The low lying areas Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said needed to evacuate.
The low lying areas Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said needed to evacuate. Mackay Regional Council

 

The low lying areas Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said needed to evacuate.
The low lying areas Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said needed to evacuate. Mackay Regional Council

 

The low lying areas Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said needed to evacuate.
The low lying areas Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said needed to evacuate. Mackay Regional Council

 

The low lying areas Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said needed to evacuate.
The low lying areas Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said needed to evacuate. Mackay Regional Council

 

The low lying areas Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said needed to evacuate.
The low lying areas Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said needed to evacuate. Mackay Regional Council

 

The low lying areas Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said needed to evacuate.
The low lying areas Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said needed to evacuate. Mackay Regional Council

Topics:  cyclone debbie evacuation mackay mackay weather


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