Short-term disruptions, but positive impact ahead as Cyclone Debbie departs

Jon Condon, 31/03/2017

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).

BOM rainfall 31 Mar

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 for the latest advice.






Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. Russell Pearson, 31/03/2017

    Totally agree Tom, your message needs to get beyond the industry level via Beef Central to the mainstream public arena. Some of the negative stuff coming out of the NTCA conference in Darwin, especially from the economists, makes me wonder how we ever got started !

  2. Thomas Strachan, 31/03/2017

    I have came to the conclusion yesterday that, excluding our special forces who seem to have maintained our cultural grit, Australia as a whole, will never again compete at a world class level in either business or sport.

    The display of complete hysteria by media, political leaders and SE Qld residents over this last twenty four hours of weather is evidence to this fact. The hysteria was led in the major part by the leadership. It was crippling to watch. The way the leadership and bureaucracy acted one could have been mistaken in thinking that the NSW border had been moved north of Redcliffe.

    One thing for sure is that the real Queenslanders, those people of North Queensland, must be in disbelief. North Queenslanders, people who come from the country where the women are wild, the cattle are scared and the men are men actually encounter and endure real storms.

    Yesterday North Queenslanders were left to clean up after a real storm, but were stuck listening to a major Australian city (the soft southerners) “shut down” because its going to be “too dangerous” to operate. The fact is the system that had hit North Queensland was out of puff. It was a slightly bigger than normal low pressure system!

    How does the leadership of this state, or country for that matter, allow this? Can you imagine the economic loss from this failure in leadership?

    Can you imagine what the pioneers of this country and great state would be doing in their grave when they watch schools shut down, major corporates close doors, and shops being plundered for supplies for the pending “end of the world event.” Turn in their grave is what.

    This brings me to my point. The thing that has made Australia and Australians great is the pioneering spirit, hardiness, and sense of humour that comes with that. Look at how north Queenslanders deal with hardship: with great humour and resilience.

    People of SE Queensland need to ask themselves what our forefather would have done. (Before we do hide all the firearms as one may shoot oneself when one realises what a whimp one has become!). Our forefathers would have assessed the situation with reality, not panicked, and even if they underestimated the challenge, they would have overcome.

    What have the media, authorities and government shown our youth today? When it looks scary, run and have a day off. It is a disgrace.

    Again, ignoring what we’re teaching our youth, can you imagine the economic loss. It comes down to leadership, which in turn drives culture. Queensland is just lucky we have north Queensland to instil and protect some of that pioneering culture because our leadership is failing badly, as evidenced yesterday.

    So, until our leadership “grow some” and establish/display the Australian toughness, we will not be able to compete in sport or business at the highest level – too soft and just not hungry enough.

Get Beef Central's news headlines emailed to you -