Tropical Cyclone Esther began to cross the Gulf of Carpentaria coast this morning, between Mornington Island and the Northern Territory. The category one system has brought wind gusts of up to 100km/h and heavy rain, with fears a storm tide will combine with high tide tonight and swamp the southern coast.
Queensland’s first cyclone of the season comes after a separate weather system inundated regions to the south, taking some communities rapidly from flood to drought and causing great rivers to flow again. This includes the northern Murray-Darling Basin.
Emergency services crews had to rescue two tourists near Mackay, after their car was submerged on a flooded road, after similar swiftwater rescues over the weekend. In southwest Queensland, a three-trailer road train was swept off a road near Amby Creek on Saturday night, with the driver also having to be rescued.
Heavy rain in the inland and southern catchments has already prompted major flood warnings for the Warrego River, Balonne and Maranoa Rivers, Paroo River and several creeks today, with forecast thunderstorms adding to the threat.
The flooding has closed roads including the Warrego Highway between Mitchell and Roma and the Carnarvon Highway in St George. However, it will prove timely for the farmers and graziers in the Murray-Darling who upgraded dozens of dams during the dry last year.
In the Gulf, the roads are not as developed or as busy, but the rain brought by Cyclone Esther in the Barkly and Carpentaria coastal river systems will still disrupt local communities and leave some isolated. The Bureau of Meteorology had predicted a lighter cyclone season.
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