Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie yesterday tracked slowly over Queensland’s southeast corner, and moved out to sea overnight.
Bureau of Meteorology Queensland regional director Bruce Gunn said the low was not expected to redevelop over the ocean now that it had moved offshore, and would likely continue to move away from the eastern Australian coast.
Benefit to the beef industry was mainly limited to the eastern quadrant of Queensland, while areas from Roma west largely missed-out (see BOM rainfall map below for week ending midnight yesterday).
On the Darling Downs, falls of 50-100mm were common west to about Chinchilla, but were more patchy further west. In the Maranoa, falls of 75-100mm were widely reported around Roma and further north. Falls further west around St George were much smaller in the 15-30mm range. The Wide Bay and Burnett regions, parts of which were extreme dry prior to the rain event, received falls mostly in the 50-100mm range.
Impact on beef industry
The cyclone and its after-effects has had an immediate impact on processing operations this week, with plants from Mackay to coastal southeastern areas like Beenleigh, and Dinmore closed yesterday, with staff in the state’s southeastern sent home at lunchtime as a precaution.
In the case of the nation’s largest beef plant, JBS Dinmore, there were concerns over whether a staff shift could be raised for today’s scheduled kill, due to localised flooding and road access problems. The Borthwicks plant at Mackay, not far from where the cycle crossed the coast on Tuesday, was yesterday managing electricity access issues, using emergency generators.
More disruptions are anticipated by processors today and early next week, Beef Central was told, with some key access roads closed yesterday (Warrego Highway west of Roma, Burnett Highway), and some others now under heavy-vehicle limitations. Road and rail damage to this point appears to be minimal, however.
The welcome soil moisture is likely to spark oats plantings in those areas of Queensland/northern NSW where forage crops can be grown, as Easter is traditionally seen as the closure of the ‘window’ to plant a crop.
Pasture growth will be dependent to some extent on soil temperatures, and where the rain fell. If it stays warm heading through April, a reasonable grass response is likely, but the onset of colder nights or early frosts would inhibit pasture benefit. Lighter country is likely to benefit most.
Flood warnings persist
The former cyclone system continued to generate areas of heavy rainfall yesterday, with widespread falls along Queensland’s southern coast and into NSW yesterday in the range of 150-250mm range, before contracting last night.
Cyclone Debbie made landfall near Proserpine in North Queensland around Noon on 28 March, bringing extreme heavy rainfall to a large area of the central and North Queensland coast, before tracking south.
The heavy rainfall sustained in coastal areas of southern Queensland and northern NSW eased overnight, clearing the coast this morning.
Damaging to destructive winds with gusts of 90km/h will continue this morning (Friday), BOM says, with destructive wind gusts in excess of 125km/h possible along the coastal fringe and exposed islands.
A Flood Watch is current for the Condamine-Balonne, Moonie, Weir, Macintyre, Mary, Noosa, Maroochy, Mooloolah, Pine, Caboolture, Brisbane, Logan, Albert, Nerang and Coomera Rivers in Queensland.
Flood warnings are current for Queensland’s lower Burdekin, Don, Proserpine, Pioneer, Connors, Isaac, Mackenzie, Fitzroy, Burnett, Kolan, Boyne, Calliope, Upper Condamine, Upper Brisbane, Bremer, Logan and Albert Rivers.
In NSW, a flood watch or flood warning is current for the Tweed, Wilson’s, Richmond, Bellinger, Orara, Upper Macintyre, Bogan and Brunswick rivers.
Separate flood warnings are now in force for many of the catchments that were previously covered by a Flood Watch. See bom.gov.au/qld/warnings/ for the latest advice.