Cyclone Owen dumps extreme rain in Queensland

Parts of northern Queensland receive 5-7 times their monthly average rainfall in 24 hours.

    Parramatta Park resident John Irving and his son Steve Irving look at the sky from their sandbagged doorway in Cairns, Queensland, Australia [Marc McCormack/EPA]
    Parramatta Park resident John Irving and his son Steve Irving look at the sky from their sandbagged doorway in Cairns, Queensland, Australia [Marc McCormack/EPA]

    Owen is the first cyclone for Australia's tropical season and has been impressive from the start.

    After forming in the Coral Sea, Owen made its first landfall in eastern Queensland, then crossed the Cape York peninsula into the Gulf of Carpentaria, but this is only part of its journey.

    Once in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Owen strengthened again over the warm waters and began backtracking, following a similar path back from which it came.

    Cyclone Owen made a second landfall on the eastern shore of the Cape York Peninsula and began tracking southeast. Over land again, the storm began to weaken, but the amount of rain, particularly for the east coast of Queensland was considered "incredible" and "very intense" by Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

    In just a 24-hour period, the town of Halifax, along the Queensland coast, received an astonishing 681 millimetres of rain. Nearby, Cardwell Range picked up an impressive 552mm of rain. Some unofficial totals coming from locations south of Braemeadows reported more than 700mm.

    Flooding has closed many roads north of Ingham and motorists have been told to avoid travelling on the Bruce Highway between Cairns and Townsville.

    The remnants of Owen will be exiting the Queensland coast today back into the Coral Sea. Unfortunately, this may not be the end of the rain from the decaying system.

    The weakened area of low pressure is expected to stay near the coast for several more days and bring heavy showers with up to another 300mm of rain through Wednesday, particularly between Townsville and Mackay.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies