Heavy rainfall was expected to batter parts of Australia’s east coast on New Year’s Day, with flood-ravaged communities bracing for more potential flash flooding.
Residents of Queensland’s far south-east including the Gold Coast, Coolangatta, Tamborine Mountain and Springbrook were on high alert with a severe weather warning forecasting locally intense rainfall.
The downpour was predicted to persist through Monday, with three to six-hourly rainfall totals between 80mm and 160mm possible, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
Total 24-hour rainfall totals could exceed 200mm in some areas, more likely around the ranges.
Particularly intense rainfall of up to 250mm over six hours could lead to dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding, the bureau warned.
“Heavy rainfall will be associated with shower and thunderstorm activity, which is likely to be hit-and-miss in nature across the warning area,” the bureau said in an alert.
“There is significant uncertainty in the movement and timing of features, but at this stage the heavy rainfall risk may persist into Tuesday morning.”
A severe weather warning for damaging winds, large hailstones and heavy rainfall was also in place on New Year’s Eve for people in parts of the Central Coast, Whitsundays, Central Highlands, Coalfields, Maranoa, Warrego, Darling Downs and Granite Belt forecast districts.
The bureau warned of possible flash flooding over several hours from about 10.40pm, after Carmila in the Isaac region recorded 99mm of rainfall between about 7.30pm and 8.30pm on Sunday.
In NSW, a high-pressure system moving into the Tasman Sea was directing persistent and humid easterly winds over parts of the state’s north-east late on Sunday night.
Possible heavy rainfall that could lead to flash flooding was predicted for the northern rivers, parts of the mid-north coast and northern tablelands on Monday.
Three to six-hourly rainfall totals of up to 160mm and 24-hourly totals of more than 250mm were possible, the bureau said.
“Localised intense rainfall is possible under areas of persistent heavy thunderstorms,” it said.
Coffs Harbour airport recorded more than 188mm in the three hours to 2.50pm on Sunday.
By contrast large swathes of northern Australia looked set for a sweltering start to the new year, with temperatures are expected to soar into the 40s for parts of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia on Monday.
The western Kimberley in WA, including the Dampier Peninsula, was forecast to be the worst hit, with the mercury expected to touch 46C at Marble Bar.
The town’s heat gauge has been showing scorching temperatures higher than the bureau’s official readings in recent days, with thermometers at the local RSL registering 51C.
Extreme heatwave warnings were also in place for parts of far northern Queensland and the Tiwi Islands in the NT.
Severe heatwave conditions were expected for the Top End, while a low-intensity heatwave would extend throughout much of the nation’s interior, including into South Australia and western NSW.
Charters Towers in Queensland’s north was expecting a double whammy of severe thunderstorms and temperatures reaching 36C.
Conditions were expected to begin cooling slightly over the week but severe and low-intensity heatwaves were still forecast for much of northern Australia.