Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Rain welcomed by some, despair for others

Far North soaked by record rain as 112mm falls on wettest October day in 47 years

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
© The Cairns Post

From bone dry to overflowing: After a dry spell the rain came back with a vengeance in the Far North yesterday. The soaking dumped 200mm at Paronella Park and was blamed for a number of crashes. Picture: MATTHEW EVANS

FLOOD warnings are in force from Cooktown to Cardwell today after record-breaking heavy rain throughout the Far North.

Cairns yesterday experienced its wettest October day since 1964 with 112mm falling from 9am to 10pm, exceeding the previous mark of 86.6mm. And there’s more to come, with the weather bureau forecasting heavy rain over the next two days."There will be much the same over the next 36 hours," Cairns weather bureau duty forecaster Bill O’Connor said.
"The heavier falls will be between Innisfail and Cairns."

Mena Creek, southwest of Innisfail, yesterday recorded about 200mm in 24 hours.
The heavy rain caused flooding at popular tourist attraction Paronella Park, with operators saying the area received four times the amount of rainfall it usually receives for the month in one night. More than 110mm fell at Cairns airport, almost tripling the average rainfall for October. "That average is 41.8mm for Cairns airport in October. More rain to come today, tonight and through tomorrow," Cairns meteorologist Ben Suter tweeted.

Cairns SES group leader Josh Milligan said crews attended a few calls for help yesterday.
"There was no real damage but preparation measures more so, with a little bit of sand-bagging in the local areas," he said. "We’ve learnt a lot from last year as we do more preparation the main thing we are looking for is at is recruitment," Mr Milligan said.

The wet weather was blamed for a string of crashes in the Far North yesterday. Two separate incidents involved five-car pile-ups. The first major incident was about 4.20pm on Mulgrave Rd, near Parramatta Park State School. It was followed shortly after by another multiple crash at the intersection of Draper and Kenny streets, Portsmith, at 5.05pm.

There were also minor crashes on the Gillies Highway, at Smithfield shopping centre and on the Kuranda Range road. No one was seriously hurt, although there were traffic disruptions.
SES volunteers were called out to tighten tarpaulins in cyclone Yasi-affected areas where many families face a long wet season without roofs. Also yesterday, motorists were forced off the Bruce Highway north of Tully because of the heavy rain.

Despite flooding concerns around the region, the downpours were still a welcome reprieve from an extended dry spell that ended with above-average temperatures for the month and weeks of a high fire danger period. Queensland Fire and Rescue Supt Alan Hogg said recent rain had eased the threat of fire in some areas but alerts were still in place "further out west".

Tableland grazier Gerry Collins said the rains were "the best October present for a long, long time". "We had good rain here this morning and pretty good rain overnight," he said. "I have just been to the sale yards in Mareeba and they had pretty handy rain there too. "It is very welcome." Raymond Bin, who has a mango and grape orchard at Mutchilba, said the 30mm that fell on his property was welcomed. "I think the majority of farmers would appreciate it because it has been pretty dry in the past month," he said.

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