Northern Queensland usually experiences a tropical climate at this time of year. Concentrated areas of intense rainfall with totals up to 300mm possible, particularly with bands of thunderstorms.
More than 20 suburbs were ordered to evacuate yesterday afternoon as authorities announced the dam - now at 250 per cent capacity - had automatically opened about 8pm Sunday and could stay open until 6am today.
Emergency services have been receiving incessant disaster and rescue calls made overnight from around the city of Townsville where evacuation centres have been filled up.
After several deadly aquatic reptiles were spotted in and around the city of Townsville, state authorities issued a number of warnings on Monday.
Even after the release, as of Monday morning, the dam was still at 229 percent capacity, holding about 532,000 gigaliters of water, or roughly as much as Sydney Harbour.
"Townsville has had the equivalent of more than one metre of rain over the last seven days, this is an all time record", the premier said.
"Dangerous and high velocity flows will occur in the Ross River Sunday night into Monday".
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About 10,000 people have already lost power since Friday - and more power outages due to public safety concerns are likely. "Unprecedented areas of flooding will occur in Townsville", a statement by the bureau said, adding there was a "risk to life and property".
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the state's flood disaster is far from over, and weather forecasters have said between half a metre and a metre of extra rain could fall on the east coast in coming days. We've continued to see intense and significant rainfall through northern parts of Queensland-especially around the coastal areas just northwest of Townsville, where we saw over 300 mm to 9 am this morning.
Fifteen small rigid hull inflatable boats (Zodiaks) are conducting evacuation of members of the community as fast as they can.
Residents of at least 20 suburbs have been told to evacuate as up to 20,000 homes are feared to be at risk in what is Townsville's worst flood on record.
They also had a warning for those venturing out into floodwaters on their own: "Crocodiles may be seen crossing roads, and when flooding recedes, crocodiles can turn up in unusual places such as farm dams or waterholes", says Queensland's Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch.
Residents in Northern Queensland are now battling once in a century monsoon weather and record rainfall, but it's not just the water that they need to be anxious about! Grocery store chain Woolworths said it was sending in food supplies by barge, while supermarket chain Coles was flying stocks into Cairns and trucking them to Townsville.