The Australian army has been deployed in some areas of the north-east of the country because of exceptional floods that happen only “every hundred years”, while crocodiles have been spotted in submerged streets.
The military deployed amphibious vehicles Monday to retrieve residents with headlamps perched on the roof of their home, while a flood plagued the state of Queensland.
The tropical north of the huge island-continent is accustomed in this season to the monsoon rains. But the rains of the last days are far above normal, especially in the coastal town of Townsville.
On Sunday, authorities were forced to open the flood gates, releasing torrents of water.
The Townsville Bulletin reported that marine crocodiles had been spotted on flooded streets.
Such rains, “it’s not an event that happens every 20 years, it’s an event that happens every 100 years,” said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Saturday.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology warned Sunday against new rains and the risk of tornadoes and high winds in the days to come. Nearly 20,000 homes may be flooded if rains persist, according to the Bureau. Schools and courts remained closed on Monday.
According to the meteorologists, a very slow-moving monsoon system was overlying northern Queensland, and some areas would receive the equivalent of more than a year of rainfall, before improvement.
The region receives an average of 2000 millimeters of rain each year, but some cities could exceed this threshold in just a few days.
Australia had just experienced its hottest January ever, which worsened the drought in the interior of the east and south of the country and fueled forest fires.
Burning heat is not uncommon during the austral summer. But experts say climate change has caused temperatures to rise, both on land and at sea, increasing the number of extremely hot days and the risk of fires.
Phyllis Reddon is a general assignment reporter at Rise Media. She has covered sports, entertainment and many other beats in her journalism career, and has lived in New York for more than 6 years. Phyllis has appeared periodically on national television shows and has been published in (among others) Yahoo News,, Politico, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Wired.com, Vice and Salon.com.