Traffic weather around Mackay. Rain on Forgan Smith Bridge.
Traffic weather around Mackay. Rain on Forgan Smith Bridge. Stuart Quinn

WEATHER WATCH: Monsoon to dump 250-300mm as it heads south

LATEST: WIDESPREAD rainfall totalling 250-300mm is forecast to drench the Mackay and Whitsunday regions from Monday as a vigorous monsoon trough and embedded tropical low that has battered Townsville over the past week moves south. 

In a thunderstorm forecast issued Sunday, the Bureau of Meteorology said heavy rainfall, which could lead to flash flooding, was likely between Townsville to Sarina and adjacent inland areas with localised intense rainfall that could lead to significant and dangerous flash flooding along a 'convergent zone'.   

Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Adam Blazak said rainfall and shower activity would start to increase around the Mackay and Whitsunday region from Monday, with totals around the 100-150mm mark 'quite likely'.   

Mr Blazak said residents could expect similar conditions on Tuesday.   

He also warned of the potential of waterspouts and tornadoes forming.   

"The next two days look like they will be the heaviest and potentially by mid week they will get back to more modest totals of 5-10mm," MrBlazak said.  

"Around the Bowen area throughout today (Sunday) the winds were set up such that they were conducive to creating water spouts and if there are thunderstorms perhaps even tornadoes coming out of those storms.   

"It is not likely but there is a possibility and we just want people to be aware of that potential. We have seen plenty of water spouts on our radar information."  

However, Mr Blazak stressed a lot of uncertainly surrounded the forecast.   

"This (the rainfall forecast) is based on the position of the monsoon trough.  

"It is quite well advised to keep up-to-date with the forecasts as the week progresses because sometimes the monsoon troughs don't need to move very much and the focus of the heavy rainfall can shift around quite easily," he said.  

"Hopefully, it should start to weaken over the next couple of days so the central coast won't be quite as poorly affected as Townsville is at the moment.   

"The plan is for the system to move offshore but there is a bit of uncertainty and I wouldn't be putting all my eggs in that one basket.   

"At this stage our forecast is for it to move offshore Thursday into Friday.   

"Fingers crossed we can move it along because it has certainly overstayed its welcome at this stage."   

With much of the region already saturated, a flood watch remains in place for the wider Mackay district, including the Pioneer River and Don and Proserpine Rivers.   

EARLIER: MACKAY and Whitsunday residents are being urged to prepare for severe weather conditions as the system that has battered Townsville over the past week moves further south.

In a live broadcast on Sunday morning, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the weather system, which has dumped record breaking rain totals on Townsville leading to widespread flooding, was expected to impact more locations along the east coast in coming days.

"Our severe weather for the north of our state was between Innisfail and Bowen and it is going to move between Innisfail and Mackay," Premier Palaszczuk said.

"As we know it is a severe weather event and a major focus at the moment is on Townsville. Townsville has had the equivalent of more than 1m of rain over the last seven days - this is an all time record.

"We are in unprecedented times. There is more rain to come."

Ms Palaszczuk said residents living between Innisfail and Bowen should be alert.

"We need people especially from Innisfail down to Bowen to listen to the warning that will come from the Bureau of Meteorology," she said.

"If you do not need to be out on the roads, please don't be. The Bruce Highway is cut north and south of Townsville.

"I just want to stress for residents living from Bowen to Proserpine, as this weather event continues to move further south, we will be examining whether or not schools need to be closed tomorrow. Please listen to authorities.

"Clearly this is a severe weather event and I need everyone to continue to work together. As it moves further south we need everyone to take care."

While mild conditions with totals between 25-30mm have been officially recorded in the Mackay and Whitsunday regions so far today, the Bureau of Meteorology's Severe Weather Warning issued at 11am advised the 'threat for heavy rainfall and damaging winds remains'.

"A slow-moving monsoon trough lies across north Queensland, extending from Townsville to Gregory Springs and into central parts of the Northern Territory," weather experts advised.

"It is forecast to shift slowly south over the next day or two to be near Bowen to Hughenden and into the Gulf Country.

"A deep, semi-stationary tropical low is also embedded along the monsoon trough, currently located about 200km north-northeast of Mt Isa. The monsoon flow is expected to continue intensifying for the remainder of today resulting in widespread severe weather.

"The monsoon trough is expected to remain active this week, with further heavy rainfall expected for already saturated catchments. The potential for significant and dangerous flash flooding will likely continue for areas between Ingham and Bowen, extending as far south as Mackay from Monday."

Parts of the Whitsundays, including Bowen, Proserpine and the Whitsunday Islands, can expect heavy rain over the next 24 hours.

"Over the next 24 to 30 hours, heavy rainfall with six-hourly rainfall totals between 150mm to 200mm are likely with concentrated areas of intense rainfall with totals up to 300mm possible, particularly with bands of thunderstorms," BOM staff advised.

"Creek and river catchments are already saturated and will therefore respond very rapidly to any rainfall. Flash flooding is a high risk. Landslides have been reported associated with this event and will continue to be possible in vulnerable areas that have experienced significant rainfall.

"Damaging wind gusts up to 100km/h are also possible about the coast and ranges, potentially locally destructive in excess of 125km/h in thunderstorms."