800mm in three days: What’s next for southeast
Queensland's wild weather shattered windows, and the dreams of travel-starved Victorian tourists, as the state's southeast was hit by an extreme system with the force of a category-1 cyclone.
Entire beaches were left covered with foam, while others were completely washed away as massive swells, squalling storms and frenetic winds battered the coast between the Fraser Coast and northern NSW.
Parts of the southeast have recorded over 800mm of rain since Saturday morning, while the force of winds, which exceeded 60km/h at times, caused mayhem in Surfers Paradise yesterday, with panes of glass blown from a high-rise to shatter on the streets below.
The tempest also shattered the holiday plans of Victorians, whose first taste of Queensland after a nine-month travel ban left them soaked and disappointed.
For George Apex and his mates, the long-awaited Queensland holiday turned into a drenching, while their home city of Melbourne basks in a rare stretch of perfect summer weather.
The group booked a week on the Gold Coast as soon as the borders reopened on December 1 and arrived on Saturday, straight into the belly of a beast that has lashed the Queensland coast for three days.
"We didn't even think about the weather," Ibby Vayne said.
"We just assumed it would be nice. Come on, it's the Gold Coast - it's always nice up here."
A man was rushed to hospital after his car reportedly lost control on a wet road and crashed into a tree at Greenbank southwest of Brisbane.
Emergency services were called to reports a car had aquaplaned and crashed into a tree on Spring Mountain Drive about 6pm, a Queensland Ambulance Spokesman said.
A man in his 30s was taken to the Princess Alexandra Hospital under lights and sirens with serious chest injuries.
Milder showers and potential storms are expected to linger in the southeast until at least tomorrow.
Significant high tides are forecast to continue this morning, bringing the potential for further erosion of impacted coastal areas.
The northern section of Bribie Island has been eroded due to usually high tides and large waves associated with the weather system.
"This section of Bribie Island has a long history of erosion and it is part of the natural process for the area, however, this is the first time this section of the island has had waves break through the dune," Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service said in a statement.
As the weather system moves south, northern NSW is expected to cop more rain, destructive winds, damaging surf and an offshore king tide of up to 10m today.
Yesterday, 8200 people were without power, and more than 250 insurance claims had been lodged with the RACQ as a consequence of the bad weather.
The SES have received 1368 emergency calls for help since Saturday 6pm.
"We are expecting more claims from this weather event which may include some tidal/salt water claims." RACQ spokeswoman Lucinda Ross said.
The Bureau of Meteorology had issued a flood watch for coastal locations south of Hervey Bay as a vicious cocktail of hazardous surf, abnormally high tides and heavy rainfall caused sea levels to surge.
"Sea levels about the southeast Queensland coast are expected to exceed highest astronomical tide … with large sea level anomalies due to the spring tides and the expected winds," Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Laura Boekel said yesterday.
Streets and cycleways were flooded in inner-city Brisbane, while photos from Sandgate showed waters reaching as high as car wheel arches.
Announcing the closure of northern parts of Bribie Island to the public, QPWS warned the weather could create environmental hazards, including steep sand dunes, deep washouts and gutters, hidden banks, fallen trees, exposed coffee rock and large debris on exposed beaches.
"Out in the oceans where we're seeing the hazardous surf and the high tides, that is what we would see with a low-pressure (system) or a tropical cyclone moving towards the coast," Ms Boekel said.
In the Gold Coast hinterland, a serious landslide yesterday afternoon saw 3m rocks block Tamborine Mountain Rd.
Little Nerang Dam was spilling after rising by more than 35 per cent in the past seven days. Wappa Dam and Lake Macdonald are also spilling, after a triple-digit deluge on the Sunshine Coast.
Meanwhile, in drought-ravaged Stanthorpe, the past two weeks have brought more rain than in the previous three months.
The heaviest falls were recorded in Upper Springbrook, where 807mm of rain was recorded since Saturday morning.
"In 24 hours over the weekend, they saw 475mm … and the following day within 24 hours they saw another 200mm as well," Ms Boekel said.
Originally published as 800mm in three days: What's next for southeast