Monsoon, heavy rain forecast puts New Year’s Eve, summer camping plans at risk in Far North Queensland


Monsoonal conditions forecast across Far North Queensland this weekend are putting some New Year’s Eve celebrations at risk and could create dangerous conditions around waterways and regional roads.

Up to 400 millimetres of rain is expected to fall in the coming days on parts of western Cape York, while smaller totals are forecast for other areas, including Cairns.

Cairns Regional Council says its showpiece fireworks displays may be cancelled “at short notice” due to the weather.

“We want to make sure we make that call as late as we can because it’s really important,” Cairns councillor Kristy Vallely said.

“The Cairns community really love the fireworks.”

The council has already cancelled a planned outdoor movie screening due to a waterlogged venue.

Any cancellations of fireworks would be announced on social media on Saturday, Cr Vallely said.

Wet conditions to stay

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Felim Hanniffy said a sustained burst of monsoon activity over Cape York Peninsula and the Gulf of Carpentaria meant those regions would likely experience prolonged showers and thunderstorm activity into next week.

“Unfortunately, there will be still showers around Cairns just given that we have the trough to the north and that increased tropical activity,” Mr Hanniffy said.

“But in terms of significant showers and storm activity, [that’s] very much further north and west over parts of the Peninsula and Gulf.

“There is the risk as [rainfall] totals tick up that we see a flood watch issued for parts of the peninsula.

“The assessment is being analysed daily, particularly as the monsoon gets going and catchments start to moisten up significantly.”

an aerial image of the promenade along the Cairns esplanade with tall buildings, mud flats and the sea on either side
Thousands of people are expected for the New Year’s Eve fireworks display.(ABC Far North: Christopher Testa)

Campers, motorists warned

Emergency services have warned people spending their holidays around northern waterways to be cautious, after multiple incidents in recent days.

A 45-year-old kayaker perished on the South Johnstone River on Boxing Day and emergency services spent about two days retrieving his body from a remote location in dense terrain.

On Thursday, a woman in her 20s was injured from a steep fall at Crystal Cascades in Cairns.

Water falling down a rock face into a small pool with tropical vegetation on either side.
A woman was seriously injured from a fall this week at a waterfall at Crystal Cascades.(ABC Far North: Christopher Testa)

State Emergency Service regional director Wayne Coutts said campers should keep an eye on the weather and be prepared to change plans.

“Also be cognisant that just because it’s not raining in the area where you are, it doesn’t mean it’s not well above you,” he said.

“It could’ve rained there several hours ago and the water has gradually come down through the mountains, especially if you’re down along the coast.”

Mr Coutts said people should monitor for any rise in water levels and be prepared for the risk of being cut off if travelling through remote areas.

A man pulling a four-wheel-drive back on to a curved roadway.
A 33-year-old man was charged after this crash on the Kuranda Range.(Supplied: QPS)

Police have also urged motorists to drive to conditions after several crashes on far northern roads.

A 33-year-old Mareeba man has been charged with drink driving, failing to maintain proper control of a vehicle and unlicensed driving after he allegedly failed to negotiate a bend while towing a boat in wet weather on the Christmas weekend.

A 60-year-old man was also lucky to escape uninjured, police said, after he drove into a tree that had fallen across a road in the Tablelands on Tuesday.


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