Floody hell: 1400km-wide storm warning for Queenslanders
THE fallout of Tropical Cyclone Debbie is set to deliver flooding rains and dangerous winds to a huge chunk of the state starting north of Bowen in Central Queensland, down to the New South Wales border.
The former cyclone is 130km northwest of Moranbah, and is expected to smash parts of the state today with between 150mm and 250mm of rain each day, and winds of more than 100kmh.
"This rainfall will be very intense at times, leading to a risk of localised flash flooding."
Mackay and Sarina are now subject to their own severe thunderstorm warning "over the next several hours".
The other areas most at risk include Carmila, Yeppoon, Moranbah, Clermont, Emerald, Springsure and Rolleston.
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A storm warning from Bureau of Meteorology shows ex-Cyclone Debbie posing a threat to 1400km of coastline, and inland past Clermont, Emerald, Roma and Goondiwindi.
As the dying Debbie moves south, the south-east parts of the state could cop more than 200mm of rain each day.
That threat has led the BOM to issue flood warnings for coastal areas from Ayr to the NSW border, and inland to Central Highlands and Coalfields, Central West, Maranoa and Warrego, and Darling Downs and Granite Belt.
The worst of the winds are affecting regions from Emerald to St Lawrence, with the Capricornia Coast in the firing line as the weakening storm moves south-southeast. If it continues as expected, the Fraser Coast could be hit by damaging winds from Thursday afternoon.
Ex-Cyclone Debbie: Flood threat stretches 1300km
CYCLONE Debbie has triggered a flood threat for a 1300km stretch of the Queensland coast, as the Whitsunday Mayor calls Bowen "a war zone".
Sky News reports a 1300km stretch of coast from Ayr to Tweed Heads is under threat of flooding in the wake of Cyclone Debbie.
Heavy rain and damaging wind gusts are pounding larges areas of central Queensland.
The Bureau of Meteorology on Wednesday morning issued a severe weather warning for people in the Central Coast, Central Highlands and Coalfields, Capricornia and parts of the Central West and Maranoa and Warrego districts.
Locations that may be affected include Mackay, Sarina, Carmila, Yeppoon, Moranbah, Clermont, Emerald, Springsure and Rolleston.
Damaging winds, with peak gusts of around 120km/h, are occurring in the warning area, particularly about the coast and islands and also over higher ground inland with a wind gust of 93km at Moranbah.
Currently the strongest wind gusts are affecting areas north of about Emerald to St Lawrence.
At 3am on Wednesday morning the Bureau of Meteorology downgraded Debbie out of the cyclone category to a tropical low, bringing sustained winds of 55km/h with gusts of up to 85km/h. Heavy rains are still expected as it moves southwest, with a severe weather warning in place.
Heavy rain and damaging winds will continue to hammer Queensland's Central Coast, the Whitsundays, Central Highlands and Coalfields districts as ex- tropical cyclone Debbie heads south.
There are fears hundreds of homes and businesses have been damaged by ex- tropical cyclone Debbie.
The storm is not done with Queensland yet. It continues to dump vast amounts of rain in coastal and inland river catchments that are now beginning to flood.
The ABC reports police will use boats to cross roads later today to reach the Airlie Beach area.
QFAS chief Katarina Carroll reportedly said 50,000 residents are without power on Wednesday morning.
"It looks like a war zone." That's the initial assessment of Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox who was driving around the cyclone ravaged north Queensland town of Bowen early on Wednesday.
"I'm trying to make sure everyone is OK," he told ABC television.
Early on Wednesday the Bureau of Meteorology said the tropical low system had moved over inland central Queensland, bringing the risk of flash flooding with up to 250mm of rainfall in a day possible.
The heaviest rainfall was expected over Springsure to Yepoon. As the system continues moving south it could bring major flooding to Ayr, and towns along the NSW border later in the week.
On Tuesday night Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk predicted "shock and awe" in the state when the full extent of the devastation wrought by the cyclone is revealed.
At its most ferocious the cyclone downed trees, stripped buildings and left shorelines swamped after making landfall as a category four storm at midday on Tuesday near Airlie Beach.
The state's premier and police commissioner issued grave warnings to residents. The premier, who on Monday warned it would be a "monster", said the state would be dealing with the impact of the "scary" cyclone for the next three to five days as it moved down the coast.
"I think there is going to be a lot of shock and awe in the morning," she told Ten News on Tuesday.
She said rapid assessment teams would be sent to observe the damage at first light on Wednesday, later revealing even she was "bracing" for Debbie's full impact being unveiled.
The system, downgraded to Category 1 at midnight Tuesday night, continued its inland push towards Mt Coolon and Moranbah with winds near the centre of 85km/h, gusting up to 120km/h.
It was moving west southwest at 15km/h.
As a Category 2 it had earlier smashed the mining town of Collinsville, ripping the roofs off houses, the Top Pub and a local supermarket.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said emergency services crews would not know the extent of the damage wrought across north Queensland until "first light" today.
"Everyone is going to be in shock just to see the full impact... I'm bracing myself for it," she said.
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said the storm conditions were still too dangerous for police and emergency services to operate fully in many areas between Bowen and Mackay.
"The loss of power, the loss of phone connectivity means that there could be people right now who are in difficult and dangerous and tragic situations - we just don't know about it," he said.
He said one Proserpine man was hurt badly by a collapsing wall and had been taken to the local hospital and also warned the very destructive storm would cause immense damage and possibly kill people.
"I think that we will also receive more reports of injury, if not deaths," Commissioner Stewart said.
"We need to be prepared for that."
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Inspector Mark Halverson said crews were still assessing the damage but Proserpine and Shute Harbour were among the worst affected.
"Proserpine and Shute Harbour do definitely have significant damage," he said.
Swiftwater rescue crews moved into the area for the cyclone had yet to be deployed and there had been no reports of houses inundated by water.
But Insp Halverson said many crews were still in lockdown.
Three helicopters would help specialist crews in four-wheel-drives this morning.
"Their main role will be to identify what we would call potentially lost communities - small groups of houses that may be completely lost, may not have communication and we can't take any chances that they're left unattended," Insp Halverson said.
While Townsville escaped and Mackay was spared the worst, the Whitsundays and Airlie Beach copped the full brunt. Whitsundays councillor John Collins said the wind was "like a jumbo jet on my roof".
"I've been through a few cyclones that are quick and nasty but this one is going to go all day."
More than 45,000 homes were without power last night.
Proserpine woman Jenny Clarke, who is in hospital, said she feared for her husband David, 68, who has a respiratory condition. He rang her at 10am to say the roof was blowing off and she hadn't heard from him since.
"If he had been (injured) he would be dead by now," she said.