Townsville Airport (TSV) suspended all flight operations and closed on the evening (local time) of Sunday, February 3, due to recent heavy monsoon rainfall and historic flooding in the area. Significant flight disruptions (including numerous flight cancelations) are to be expected at the airport over the coming days. The move comes after the Townsville area had received over 100 cm (39 in) of rain over a seven-day period through Sunday morning.
Authorities called for evacuations in 21 suburbs of Townsville facing impending flooding as the Ross River Dam, which had reached 250 percent of capacity, was fully opened around 20:00 on Sunday. Severe flooding is expected near the Ross River over the coming days. Hundreds of people have been rescued by emergency responders from their homes; as many as 20,000 homes may be at risk of flooding over the near term, according to local authorities, and residents have been urged to seek high ground. A number of roads have also been closed in the Townsville area due to flooding, with authorities cautioning that additional forecast rainfall may cause landslides that further obstruct roads. Several schools and health services facilities have been closed and power outages have affected some 17,000 homes.
Heavy monsoon rainfall is forecast to drench Townsville through Wednesday, February 6, with rainfall gradually dissipating in the area over the following days until the system moves out of the area by Sunday, February 10. Additional rainfall totals of around 40 cm (16 in) are forecast for the Townsville area through February 10; significant flooding, transportation disruptions, and power outages are to be expected.
Individuals in the Townsville area are advised to monitor local weather reports, anticipate flooding and transportation disruptions (including numerous flight delays and cancelations), and remember that walking or driving through running water can be dangerous - 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock over an adult - and that floodwater may contain wastewater and chemical products; all items having come into contact with floodwater should be disinfected and all foodstuffs discarded. Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities (e.g. evacuation orders).
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