News | Elders Weather

Date: 2022-01-10 03:40:42

Maryborough still awash after heaviest Aussie rain day in three years

Anthony Sharwood, 10 January 2022

The large town of Maryborough in Queensland (population approx. 22,000) is mopping up today after the Mary River inundated large parts of the town.

A 14-year-old girl is still missing after being swept away in a raging torrent, while the entire CBD was evacuated after floodwaters breached the town’s temporary levee.

Image: Cars in suburban Maryborough. Source: @Jennybeck63 via Instagram.

The weather is mostly fine in the area as we write this summary on Monday, with only a moderate chance of showers in the next 48 hours and the prospect of a mostly fine week ahead, but the amount of rain that caused this event is truly staggering.

  • A whopping 674 mm of rain in the 24 hours to 9 am Saturday was recorded at the weather station at the rural locality of Marodian, about 40 km southwest of Maryborough in the catchment of the Mary River.
  • This was the highest 24-hour rainfall tally anywhere in Australia since 2018, when 678 mm was recorded at the tiny town of Halifax, which lies just north of Townsville and is about 1200 km northwest of Maryborough along the Qld coastline.
  • So while this weekend’s Maryborough region rainfall was exceptional by any standard, it is all the more remarkable considering that such enormous amounts fell in a town which is technically just south of the Tropic of Capricorn (you’d usually expect the heaviest daily rainfall in Australia to be recorded in the far tropical north).
  • The town of Maryborough itself received “only” 83.6 mm to 9 am Saturday, with falls of around 25 mm the day before and after. While those three days brought more than Maryborough’s December average of 128 mm within three days, it was the much heavier rainfall in the catchment that caused the Mary River to flood.

Image: A mooring is currently more valuable than a parking spot in Maryborough. Source: @Jennybeck63 via Instagram.

Despite the massive rainfall, the Mary River flood peak was a few centimetres lower than the 10.7 m peak after Cyclone Oswald in 2013.

But that’s not to suggest the town got off lightly. As mentioned, there is the tragic situation of a girl who has not been found after being swept away, while the CBD remains inundated with up to 100 business affected.

Fraser Coast Council has installed 12 pumps in the CBD, each of which can remove up to 120 litres of water per second, according to local mayor George Seymour.

Meanwhile, as it becomes clear that much of the flooding in Maryborough’s CBD was caused by water rushing in through damaged underground gates. This enabled floodwaters to bypass the levee built to protect local businesses.

Mayor Seymour called it a “catastrophic failure of the gates that are meant to hold the stormwater back underground”.

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