Quantcast

Disaster Declared as Australian City Sees a Year’s Worth of Rainfall Within Days

Climate
Seen is a flooded street in the suburb of Railway Estate on Feb. 1 in Townsville, Australia. Ian Hitchcock / Getty Images

A disaster was declared in Townsville in Queensland, Australia after heavy rainfall caused a landslide Thursday that prompted police to order evacuations of properties including an apartment complex, Australia's ABC News reported. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk closed all schools and childcare centers in the area Friday as the rain is expected to keep falling through the weekend.


The monsoon system has also caused flooding in the area, submerging 50 homes and stranding around 30 people who had to be rescued, according to The Guardian.

"There was no water on the ground around our house when I left," flood survivor Elly Carpentier said, according to The Guardian. Carpentier said she went to pick up two of her three children from school and came back to a flooded home. "The floodwater came up three meters (approximately 9.8 feet) in 30 minutes. My house was submerged under water, that's how quick it was. It was incredible. I have never seen anything like it."

WEATHER UPDATE: Flooding across northern Queensland, 1 February 2019 www.youtube.com

The flood risk zone stretches through 850 kilometers (approximately 528 miles) of Queensland north to south from Daintree to Mackay. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) expects some areas will see 400 millimeters (approximately 15.7 inches) of rain daily for several days. But Townsville has been especially inundated.

"The annual rainfall for Townsville is 1.1 metres (approximately 3.6 feet). We're seeing more than that at the moment. We're going to see places get two or three times their summer average rainfall amounts," Dr. Richard Wardle of BOM told The Australian Associated Press.

While climate change is expected to bring increased drought to much of southern Australia, rainfall in parts of northern Australia has actually increased since the 1970s. Extreme rainfall events are also expected to increase across the country, according to the BOM's State of the Climate 2018.

To combat flooding, Townsville officials have made the risky decision to release water from the Ross River Dam, which is currently at 178 percent of capacity. Record amounts of water are entering the sea from the Ross River.

"What we're trying to do is to get ahead of the system, so we reduce the risk of any further flooding in the city—but that's not guaranteed," Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill told The Australian Associated Press. "We haven't taken this decision lightly," she said.

Ninety to 100 homes are being evacuated prior to the release of water.

Darla Astill, coordinator of the Bluewater community center where around 100 families including the Carpentiers have taken shelter, described the situation on the ground, as reported by The Guardian:

"People have had to just sit and watch cars, tractors, containers, ride-ons and all sorts of stuff just floating in the creek," she said. "There's not much you can do, it's still raining, we've got more rain predicted so we're just sandbagging here at the moment if it does rain again.

"There's been a couple of dogs floating by, people tried to rescue them, there was also a cow that got pulled out and survived but one the dogs they couldn't get to."


Drone footage shows extent of flood ravaged Townsville www.youtube.com

Townsville residents say they have seen crocodiles on highways and football fields because of the floods, The Australian Associated Press reported.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

"It would be great to see all the candidates join Elizabeth Warren in taking the No Big Ag Money Pledge," said Citizens Regeneration Lobby's Alexis Baden-Mayer. Peter Blanchard / Flickr / ric (CC BY 2.0)

By Andrea Germanos

Food system justice and environmental advocates on Wednesday urged all Democratic presidential hopefuls to follow in the footsteps of Sen. Elizabeth Warren in signing a pledge rejecting campaign cash from food and agribusiness corporations.

Read More
A new study shows the impact Native Americans had on landscapes was "small" compared to what followed by Europeans. The findings provide important takeaway for conservation in New England today, seen above in a view of areas surrounding Rangeley Lakes in Maine. Cappi Thompson / Moment / Getty Images

There's a theory going around that Native Americans actively managed the land the lived on, using controlled burns to clear forests. It turns out that theory is wrong. New research shows that Native Americans barely altered the landscape at all. It was the Europeans who did that, as ZME Science reported.

Read More
Sponsored
Loggers operate in an area of lodgepole pine trees killed by the mountain pine beetle in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest on Sept. 13, 2019 in Montana. As climate change makes summers hotter and drier in the Northern Rockies, forests are threatened with increasing wildfire activity, deadly pathogens and insect infestations, including the mountain pine beetle outbreak. The insects have killed more than six million acres of forest across Montana since 2000. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Donald Trump told a crowd at the Davos World Economic Forum Tuesday that the U.S. will join the Forum's 1t.org initiative to restore and conserve one trillion trees around the world, according to The Hill.

Read More
Wild rice flatbread is one of many Native recipes found in Indigikitchen. Indigikitchen

The online cooking show Indigikitchen is providing a platform to help disseminate Indigenous food recipes — while helping eaters recognize their impact on the planet and Native communities.

Read More

On the Solomon Islands, rats and poachers are the two major threats to critically endangered sea turtles. A group of local women have joined forces to help save the animals from extinction.

Read More