News

Looking back at the start of Queensland's storm from hell

BUNDY BATTLES: People make their way through floodwater in East Bundaberg. About 1200 people stayed in evacuation centres after 2000 homes succumbed to raging floodwater.
BUNDY BATTLES: People make their way through floodwater in East Bundaberg. About 1200 people stayed in evacuation centres after 2000 homes succumbed to raging floodwater. Sabrina Lauriston

JANUARY 18 was a fairly typical day at the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre in Darwin.

The outside temperature gauge registered a balmy 29 degrees - cool by Darwin standards - but the air conditioner chugged along nicely and the water gurgler in the corner was still doing brisk business.

All eyes were on the tangle of state-of-the-art equipment, the first line of defence.

An area of low pressure over the Gulf of Carpentaria caught the attention. Given the region of low wind shear and high sea surface temperatures, it seemed likely to develop into a system worthy of mention.

Early the next day the system made landfall near Borroloola but looped around and returned to the Gulf of Carpentaria. There it reorganised and gathered strength and by January 21, it was a tropical cyclone

. It was called Oswald.

Some 12 hours after it was named, Oswald hit land just north of Kowanyama with winds over 65kmh. As cyclones go, it was a fairly weak example and was expected to peter out.

But Oswald had other ideas and thanks to strong monsoonal flows and the MJO - a band of low pressure that originates off the east coast of central Africa - the tropical depression became a storm with frightening power.

ROCKY REELS: An aerial view of the swollen Fitzroy River in flood-hit Rockhampton.
ROCKY REELS: An aerial view of the swollen Fitzroy River in flood-hit Rockhampton. STEPHEN JOHNSON

Oswald was unique in its make-up and in its ability to gain strength and even though there was warning of its arrival, this type of system was unprecedented in recorded Australian weather history - meaning even those in the know had little idea of the fury it would unleash.

In retrospect, when Weipa copped 329mm in a matter of hours and Tully received 1000mm (632mm in 48 hours), this should have raised the alarm.

Ingham was cut off as the Herbert River rose and in Cairns, winds of 90kmh downed powerlines and whipped up the sea.

Oswald's march was relentless, leaving behind disasters in Townsville, Bowen, Mackay, Yeppoon, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Baffle Creek and Agnes Water.

With him, Oswald brought a series of tornadoes and spectacular water spouts.

The two that slammed into Bargara and Burnett Heads just after lunch on Australia Day injured 17 people and left no one in any doubt that this weather system would not be forgotten.

With the Burnett River expected to peak at nine metres the following day, police and SES workers started to evacuate North Bundaberg.

The water sped through the city at 70kmh, tearing at bridges, flooding businesses and rising to the rooftops, and lifting up homes with ease.

More than 2000 homes and 200 businesses were hit and 8000 people displaced.

Before the waters reached Brisbane, a few days later, they brought millions of dollars in damage to Hervey Bay and Maryborough, Laidley (in the Lockyer Valley), Gympie (where the river peaked at 21m) and the Sunshine Coast where foaming seas spilled on to roads and hundreds of trees were felled by roaring winds.

Communities further west, including Eidsvold, Mundubbera and Gayndah, were forced to deal with disasters of their own, waiting for help that took days to come.

Ipswich and Brisbane had braced themselves for the worst, but thankfully were, for the most part, spared the heartache of 2011.

Oswald announced its arrival in NSW with 90kmh winds ripping the heart out of Grafton before moving on to Bellingen and Port Macquarie.

It finally ran out of puff on January 29 with the Opera House in sight, slinking quietly into the Tasman Sea. Its 3000km rampage that claimed six lives will never be forgotten.

>> Related: Looking back at the Oswald flooding aftermath

A nation's shock and awe

Wifi, fries and news

Regions means business

Topics:  big wet bom editors picks flooding oswald



Fashionistas behind new clothing boutique

Louise Schmidt and Wendy Stensson are preparing to launch Soul Sista.

Louise Schmidt and Wendy Stensson are preparing to launch Soul Sista

COMMENT: All eyes on Hanson for state poll

Pauline Hanson

One Nation politician a LNP lackey?

Another voice needed to balance Andrew Bolt's rubbish

Andrew Bolt

My choice would be Mike Carlton’s acerbic take on current events

Local Partners

Living End, Grinspoon stars hit stage for American Idiot

GET a sneak peek at Green Day's American Idiot The Musical as we go behind the scenes to meet the stars at a QPAC rehearsal.

Samuel L Jackson dismisses La La Land ahead of Oscars

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in a scene from the movie La La Land.

Hollywood actor and Oscars voter says Denzel should win top gong

Live performance of Sci-fi classic to open Science Festival

Qld Symphony Orchestra perform live to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Festival will host A Live Presentation of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Former Family Matters stare accused of child abuse

Reginald VelJohnson, left, and Darius McCrary arrive at the TV Land Awards on Sunday, April 19, 2009 in Universal City, Calif.

Darius McCrary has been accused of child abuse

Bindi Irwin's birthday tribute to her dad

Bindi Irwin

Bindi Irwin has paid tribute to her dad on his 55th birthday

Reality TV show gives Maryborough a boost

*WARNING EMBARGOED until 9.15pm Monday January 30* Sean Hollands and Susan Rawlings pictured after their wedding on the TV series Married At First Sight. Supplied by Channel 9.

Maryborough looks good on reality TV show.

Your guide to a great night out in Ipswich

Airlie Beach Festival of Music 2016 / Andrew Pattinson / Vampp Photography

Check out the city's live music scene here

Stunning home blends South Pacific beauty with Orient style

Immaculate residence with two outdoor living areas

WARNING: 'Sardine city' is on Ipswich's horizon

CONCERNED: The implications of the State's move to denser housing developments has Cr David Pahlke up in arms.

But Antoniolli says council can manage State's denser housing edict

Grand re-launch for new Nolan's Corner

GRAND PARTY: Wayne Kemp and Angela Love from Poison Arrow, Eliza Woodruffe from Limestone Emporium, Tess Claris from Voice Hair and Beauty and Kim Schubel from Schudio will all be at the grand launch party.

A feat worth celebrating

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

The suburb where house, land prices are spiking

ON THE RISE: 13 Kallatina Terrace, Karalee will go to auction on March 31. Karalee house prices went up 9.9% in the past year.

"It has good hospitals, universities and schools."

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!