Queensland awaits next blow in flood crisis

Townsville families who have fled their homes are nervously waiting to see just how far floodwaters will rise after unprecedented releases from the city's swollen dam.

Soldiers, police and SES workers patrolled at-risk parts of the city overnight, helping people move from vulnerable homes.

Two police officers who were evacuating people in the suburb of Hermit Park had to be rescued themselves when fast rising waters left them clinging to trees and washed away their patrol car.

Two other people were plucked to safety from the roof of their car at Hyde Park nearby.

Rainfall in the Townsville area wasn't as bad as feared overnight.

But Bureau of Meteorology has estimated that a further 450mm of rain will have fallen over the Ross River Dam catchment in the 24 hours to 9am on Monday.

At 4am on Monday (local time), the dam was sitting at 242 percent of capacity, despite an order last night to fully open its flood gates and double the amount of water being released to almost 2000 cubic metres per second.

That order sparked warnings that 21 suburbs could see flash flooding, including high velocity flows that could kill people.

One of the city's five evacuation centres is now full and unable to accept any more evacuees, and crocodiles have been spotted outside suburban homes.

Floodwaters are also full of snakes, with authorities telling people they must stay out of the water.

A decision will be made early on Monday about whether to reopen the city's airport after all flights were cancelled late on Sunday.

The premier is in the disaster zone, as other parts of the state brace for possible flooding.

It's still raining in Townsville, but falls there weren't as bad as forecasters had feared.

It's unclear how many more homes may have been inundated. On Sunday the figure was between 400 and 500, but that was before dam releases were doubled.

There are fears thousands of others could have been inundated overnight.

The trough that's been dumping flooding rain on north Queensland's east coast, and drought-hit parts of western Queensland, will drive the state's emergency for days to come.

Intense rain with significant flash flooding is expected between Ingham and Bowen, and possibly as far south as Mackay, extending inland to Mt Isa near the Northern Territory border.

Authorities have also warned of the potential for tornado-strength winds, and have observed offshore tornadoes but so far tornadoes have not been seen in coastal communities.

 

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