‘Haven’t seen anything like it’: Queensland braces for Cyclone Tiffany as rescuers search for missing teen

A 14-year-old girl remains missing as parts of Queensland continue to be affected by major flooding.

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Photograph: Darren England/EPA

The aftermath of ex-tropical cyclone Seth has caused “unexpected” heavy rains and storms across parts of the state, with further cyclone activity expected this week.


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Severe thunderstorms were no longer occurring across Capricornia, Wide Bay and Burnett but a tropical cyclone may be brewing further north in the wake of Seth, with a tropical low developing east of Cape York Peninsula.

The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the cyclone was forecast to hit the coast as a category one system at about 4am on Monday, local time.

Sustained winds near the centre of up to 55km/h were being detected, with wind gusts of up to 85km/h over the north-western Coral Sea as the low slowly moved towards far north Queensland.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the low was expected to intensify into a tropical cyclone by Monday morning before making landfall between Cooktown and Lockhart River.

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Winds of up to 110km/h are possible as far north as Cape Grenville or as far south as Cape Tribulation – if there were slight changes in the track to north or south.

Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Dean Narramore said the cyclone would lead to heavy rainfall that might develop to flash and riverine flooding.

“After weakening over land, it will continue moving west into the Gulf of Carpentaria, bringing heavy rain and damaging winds and redeveloping into a cyclone on Tuesday as it moves towards the Northern Territory,” he said.

Palaszczuk said all agencies were “well prepared” for the cyclone, which will be named Tropical Cyclone Tiffany.

“To all of the residents in those areas – please be on the lookout. We’ll be keeping a very close eye on that,” the premier said.

It comes as a 22-year-old Sunshine Coast man was confirmed to be the first fatality from the storms after his ute became submerged in flood waters at Kanigan, north of Brisbane, on Friday evening. No one else was in the car at the time.

Queensland fire and emergency services have responded to 42 swift water rescue jobs, with people trapped by flood waters throughout Imbil, Gayndah and Woolooga.

The SES has responded to more than 155 requests for assistance across the region, including nine boat rescues. Additional crews have been deployed from Brisbane and central Queensland as flood water continues to move through the area.

A 40-year-old man was rescued after a car was swept away in the early hours of Saturday morning at Booubyjan, near Gympie in Queensland’s south-east.

It’s believed he and a 14-year-old girl managed to get out of the car before it was swept away in flood waters near the Burnett Highway and Murgon Gayndah Road. Police said the man was found clinging to a tree but the girl remains missing.

The state disaster coordinator, Brendan Moon, said ongoing road closures had impeded the search for the missing teenager.

He said there had been a “high intensity” operational response from Bundaberg to Kilcoy over the weekend, with 16 tasks that required air support and 11 people transported by air. All were in a stable condition but there remained “grave fears” for the teenage girl.

“This is a very, very difficult environment,” Moon said. “We are unable to get in there and conduct the search appropriately at the moment. It’s going to take some time for us to do that.”

Palaszczuk said her thoughts were with the family of the girl.

“That unexpected rain in the past 24 hours was unprecedented,” she said on Sunday afternoon.

“Can I thank our emergency services personnel for the extraordinary job that they have been doing. People have been rescued. They’ve been in constant contact with people who have been isolated in their vehicles.”

A moderate to major flood warning remained in place for Barambah Creek and the lower Burnett River, with heavy rainfalls of up to 300mm recorded over parts of the catchment in the 24 hours to 9am Saturday.

Further flood warnings had been issued across the Burrum and Cherwell rivers catchments, the Elliot, Gregory and Isis catchments, the Mary River, the Balonne River and the Upper Brisbane River.

Heavy localised rainfall in excess of 600mm had been recorded in parts of the Mary River catchment, forecast to continue easing on Sunday with showers remaining possible.

Major flooding was occurring on the Mary River at Maryborough, where a peak of 10.5 metres – just shy of the 2013 floods – was expected later on Sunday. The river was sitting just above nine metres on Sunday morning.

There had been 177 requests for assistance in the Maryborough area in relation to people at risk. No people were currently unaccounted for, but some 80 homes were expected to be impacted by the floods.

The Mary River at Gympie was at 13 metres and rising, expected to peak about 14 metres on Sunday morning and remain above the moderate flood level into the afternoon.

Flooding and strong rises were also being observed in the Tinana Creek catchment, with moderate flooding at Tagigan Road.

The prolonged flooding had caused highways to close and cut off some towns as searches continued for missing residents.

Gympie mayor Glen Hartwig said “very significant damage” had already been discovered as rains eased, bringing hot and humid conditions.

“I’ve been in this area for 40 years, and we haven’t seen anything like it,” he said.

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“We’re just waiting for the water to start to subside. The areas of Kilkivan and Theebine copped a torrential drenching that we probably haven’t seen before.”

The main water pipeline in Gympie was fractured due to road corrosion. “There will be massive amounts of damage to road infrastructure and bridges,” Hartwig said. “We’ll be stuck into that as the water subsides.”

Narramore said the threat of heavy rainfall had eased and flood-affected areas should remain mostly dry in the coming days.

But with major flooding continuing along the Mary River, properties in Maryborough risked being “inundated” on Sunday evening.

Source: Thanks msn.com