Authorities are starting to worry about dam levels in south east Queensland

Photo: Glenn Hunt/ Getty Images.

  • All schools in Brisbane have been closed and will remain closed tomorrow.
  • Police are asking people the keep off the roads as the weather intensifies.
  • 6 of the 12 dams in the south east Queensland catchment area are spilling.
  • Wivenhoe Dam is currently at 70% capacity.
  • 50 people are stranded in rising floodwaters in Mackay.
  • Sydney is the next to get hit with wild weather.

Brisbane is getting smashed by ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie.

Heavy rain has caused half of the Grid Twelve dams in south east Queensland, which contribute to the local water supply system, to spill.

Ewen Maddock, Hinze, Little Nerang, Maroon, Wappa and Wyaralong are all exceeding capacity.

The one to watch however is Wivenhoe Dam, the largest of the twelve.

Wivenhoe raised water levels in the Brisbane River by up to 10 metres during 2011 floods.

A hydrology report, commissioned by the Insurance Council of Australia and published the same year as the floods, ruled the Brisbane flood to be a “dam release flood”.

Currently, the dam is only 813,615ml full, with a capacity of 1,165,238ml, or 69.8% full.

A spokesperson from Seqwater, one of Australia’s largest water businesses, said it would let people know beforehand if the gates to that dam needed to be opened, which she said at the current rate of the rain may be tomorrow.

Seqwater will continue monitor inflows.


See updates here.

The 2011 Brisbane flood was part of a series flooding that hit Queensland between December 2010 and January 2011.

At least 90 towns and over 200,000 people were affected. 35 people died.

According to a report by Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities, the intangible and tangible costs associated with the floods were estimated to be $7.4 billion and $6.7 billion, respectively, or a total of $14.1 billion.

A Queensland police spokesperson told Business Insider that they do not yet have statement to provide on the state of the dams, saying a comment will be provided should there be an “immediate risk to public safety”.

Dams further up north in the Banana Shire district have been put on emergency alert.

Water levels are rising within Callide Dam and Kroombit Dam and residents downstream are advised to monitor levels in case water releases are required.

Police have said residents near those dams should prepare now and are advised to consider relocating from areas at risk to the Biloela Civic Centre.

All schools in Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city, have also been closed today as the storm moves down the east coast of Australia.

The Queensland police media announced on Twitter this morning that all schools from Agnes Water to the NSW border will be closed, as well as the schools out west to Nanango.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced at around 3pm AEDT this afternoon that schools will remain tomorrow as well.

The police department said it is an “unprecedented call” but it is safer than having parents try to pick up kids during heavy rain.

It says if parents have already dropped their children at school today they will be looked after but if they have the opportunity to pick them up before the end of the day to do so.

It is urging business owners to think about allowing staff to leave early to assist with parents picking up their children.

“Peak hour will be a nightmare,” it says. “Employers are asked to let staff go home in a staggered fashion.”

Public transport in south east Queensland will be free from 10am to help get people home, the police said.

“We do not take this decision lightly & it’s taken in the best interest of the community,” it tweeted.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is expected to be briefed by police on the closures.

In its latest update it has reiterated the extent of the closures.

It comes after the Queensland government issued a severe wet weather warning for parents and students this morning, cautioning them about traveling to and from school today as the effects of ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie extends south.

“Parents are urged to check local weather conditions and road access, and put their safety — and that of their children — above all else,” it said.

“Parents should consider that with deteriorating weather conditions, the impact of this significant weather system is expected to worsen during the course of Thursday 30 March 2017… Parents should not only consider the risks of the travel journey to school but also the return journey at the end of the school day in response to the deteriorating weather that is forecast during Thursday.”

The department of education and training has listed closed facilities on its website.

As of 8.50am AEDT, 101 state schools, 23 catholic and independent schools, and 129 early childhood education and care services have been closed.

The QLD government

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast heavy rain and damaging wind gusts for the Capricornia, Wide Bay and Burnett, Darling Downs and Granite Belt and Southeast Coast districts this morning.

It predicts that destructive wind gusts may develop about the coastal fringe and elevated terrain of the Wide Bay and Burnett and Southeast Coast districts from this afternoon.

As of 7am EST ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie was located over inland central Queensland near Rolleston.

The Bureau says the system is expected to continue moving southeastwards over the southern parts of the Central Highlands this morning, before tracking over southeast Queensland during the afternoon and evening.

“Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie will continue to generate areas of very heavy rain over the Capricornia, Wide Bay and Burnett, Southeast Coast districts. Currently the heaviest rainfall is occurring over much of the Capricornia, Wide Bay and Burnett region, and Southeast Coast districts,” it said in an update at issued at 7.45am.

Widespread daily rainfall totals of 150 to 250mm are expected, with significantly higher accumulations a possibility.

“This rainfall will likely be very intense at times, leading to a risk of severe localised flash flooding,” it warns, listing Gladstone, Kingaroy, Bundaberg, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast as watch zones for flash flooding.

“Isolated very heavy daily totals in excess of 400mm possible, mostly around the higher ground in southeast Queensland.”

A severe weather warning has been cancelled for the Central Coast and Whitsundays districts.

The BOM.

Today, 30 health professionals from Brisbane and Gold Coast hospitals were sent to Mackay — one of the worst hit areas from Cyclone Debbie — to boost local capacity to respond and provide relief for local staff.

Among them are emergency department doctors, emergency nurses, intensive care nurses, midwives, pharmacists, radiographers, mental health professionals, environmental officers and food services staff.

The minister for health and ambulance services, Cameron Dick, said: “Their arrival in Mackay later today will ensure we can maintain continuity of services at Mackay by providing much needed respite to local staff who have worked tirelessly both before and during Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

“Natural disasters and severe weather events can sadly cause considerable distress and trauma for those who experience it, so it is also crucial that mental health professionals are available to assist as required.”

Although this is unlikely to have an impact their home base.

The minister said at a press conference earlier today that all hospitals and health services in the south east also have emergency response plans put into place in preparation for the storm.

“They are taking steps to ensure their hospital can continue through this weather event,” he said.

“We have some experience in this, of course from other natural disasters and sever weather events, so our hospitals are well positioned and we are monitoring that.

“I am confident in our ability and in our staff to make sure we can response as necessary in thew community.”

Queensland police block off a street near Bowen. Photo: Peter Parks/ AFP/ Getty Images.

Yesterday, Palaszczuk announced a $1 million donation to help four leading charities deliver urgent services and support communities devastated by Cyclone Debbie.

The Australian Red Cross Society, Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul Society of Queensland and UnitingCare Community will all receive $250,000 in funding.

“Delivering an injection of funds straight to these charities means they can immediately begin rolling out support services to parts of north Queensland devastated by Cyclone Debbie,” Palaszczuk said.

“These four charities have a track record of delivering critical support to communities on the ground in the aftermath of a major tropical Cyclone.

“The scale of the disaster is significant and there is a lot of work ahead of us to repair damage and help people put their lives back together.

“I know many Australians will dig deep and I encourage them to give to a respected charity with experience responding to community needs in the wake of a disaster,” she said.

In January 2013, tropical Cyclone Oswald hit parts of Queensland and New South Wales causing widespread storms and flash flooding.

Coastal regions of Queensland were the most impacted with Mundubbera, Eidsvold, Gayndah and Bundaberg in the Wide Bay–Burnett hit severely.

Across the affected region, damage from severe weather and flooding amounted to at least $2.4 billion.

More than 50 people are trapped by rising floodwaters in Mackay, one of the areas worst hit by ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie.

11 of those people are near Eton, another 40 people are also waiting to be rescued in the Homebush area.

Police rescues are currently underway.

Sydney is the next city to be smashed by the fast moving storm.

The Bureau of Meteorology reports that people on the coastline from Lismore to Sydney will be belted with thunderstorms, heavy rainfall and destructive winds.

“24 hour totals in excess of 200 mm are expected over the Northern Rivers district during Thursday, and it is likely that some locations will significantly exceed 350 mm,” it said.


More to come.