Townsville’s 2019 floods

The Townsville flood of January-February 2019 was, like cyclones Althea and Yasi, one of the extreme weather events which define people’s lives in the city. Two months later, “How did you go in the floods?” is still the first question we ask friends we haven’t seen for a while. There’s a lot for Green Path to say about it but whatever we publish now will be incomplete so we will update and extend it as appropriate, in separate posts if justified by the amount of extra material.

Let’s begin with an overview of the weather event and its immediate consequences.

The weather event

A low in the monsoon trough over the Gulf became a rain depression and drifted South and East until it settled over Townsville, where it stayed much longer than “normal” (we will have to return to that concept later) and dumped an inordinate amount of rain on us over about ten days – say 29-30 Jan to 7-8 Feb.  Continue reading “Townsville’s 2019 floods”

After the rain

Aplin's Weir in flood
The obligatory photo of Aplin's Weir in flood

We had nearly half a metre of rain from Wednesday morning to Tuesday morning but it has all cleared away to the South now. (Mackay has had it, and Rocky is waiting for it, as I write.)

150 mm of it came on Monday – Tuesday and included a wild but very localised storm around 5 a.m. on Tuesday which completely wrecked a dozen houses and damaged many more, about two suburbs away from us (ABC report and photos here). We were woken by its noise but not affected by it, thank goodness: those who were unlucky enough to be in its path now have to deal with Yasi-level damage just a year after that cyclone.

I went down to Aplin’s Weir yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon, on Ross River just upstream from us, to take the obligatory flood photo. I now have a collection of them, at least one per year, because the river reaches this level after any big rain event. It’s still very impressive.

By way of contrast, here is a photo taken from the footbridge last July, in the middle of our dry season (note the smoke from fires in the hills).

Aplin's Weir and Ross River
Aplin's Weir and Ross River in July

Remembering Cyclone Yasi

It’s a year this week since Yasi crossed the coast between Townsville and Cairns, affecting both cities to an extent but devastating the smaller towns, especially Tully and Cardwell, in between. It was the biggest cyclone ever to cross the Australian coastline, though perhaps not the most intense.

Our own memories of the event are of trepidation, anxiety, relief and a lot of inconvenience and hard labour. We spent hours beforehand preparing the house and yard, as best we could, for the wind and rain. We lost mains power halfway through the afternoon, cooked and ate dinner by gas stoves and lanterns, listened apprehensively as the wind built through the evening, and got as much sleep as we could during the night – which wasn’t much.

Continue reading “Remembering Cyclone Yasi”