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Massive Flooding In Northern Australia Forces Evacuations

3 months ago
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Severe floods caused by heavy rains in the wake of former Tropical Cyclone Jasper have cut off several tourist towns along the Great Barrier Reef in northeastern Australia.

On Monday, the conservation officials captured a 9-foot-long crocodile from a storm drain next to a gas station in the flooded town of Ingham. While crocodile sightings are more common in rural rivers, swamps and lagoons in northern Queensland, the severe floods likely displaced this crocodile into the urban area.

Jasper dumped months' worth of rain over the weekend as it moved south after being downgraded to a tropical low. The relentless rains forced some residents to flee their homes and crowd onto rooftops to escape the rapidly rising floodwaters. Search and rescue efforts are being hampered by the continuous heavy rains, preventing aerial support from reaching remote flooded areas.

Cairns, the gateway city to the Great Barrier Reef and home to over 150,000 residents, has been especially hard hit. The city recorded approximately 24 inches of rain over a 40-hour period through early Monday morning, more than triple the average December rainfall. The Cairns Airport was inundated, with social media images showing planes partially submerged on the tarmac. All flights have been cancelled or postponed as water pumps struggle to drain the immense volume of water.

One Cairns resident told ABC Radio he was forced to shelter on top of his kitchen bench for four hours before being evacuated to a neighbor's roof where 30 people and pets awaited rescue boats. He described the "harrowing journey navigating the very fast-flowing water and dodging debris."

Weather officials warn that more heavy rain is forecasted through Monday as the remnants of Jasper persist. Some regions are predicted to receive 12 inches of rain in just six hours. Major flood warnings are in place as rivers are expected to reach record levels, exceeding historical high points from as far back as 1977.

Across the northeast region, more than 14,000 homes and businesses have lost power due to the flooding. Defence forces are on standby for rescue and relief deployments if required. With the area simultaneously experiencing an El Nino weather pattern, the extreme rainfalls and flooding have been exacerbated by shifts in usual precipitation patterns.

Meanwhile, a high-temperature alert is in effect across Australia's southeast in anticipation of a severe heat wave reaching 104 degrees Fahrenheit in Sydney suburbs on Tuesday. The simultaneous flooding in the northeast and hot, dry conditions in the southeast showcase the variability and extremes of Australia's climate.


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