Weather experts have weighed in on the uniqueness of today’s sudden downpour, as officials start to add up the damage bill from the storm.
Weather experts have weighed in on the uniqueness of today’s sudden downpour, as officials start to add up the damage bill from the storm.

Freak storm a ‘one in a 100 year’ event

THE Gold Coast experienced a "one in a 100 year" storm event as a "very dangerous" thunderstorm unleashed more than 120mm on parts of the city in less than an hour.

Nearly a whole month of rain was dumped on Southport between midday and 1pm, as the area bore the brunt of the major storm.

Flash flooding wreaked havoc for drivers caught in the unexpected downpour and Southport shop owners were forced to duck for cover from leaking roofs.

Rescue workers check on cars flooded by the sudden storms. Picture: Jason O'Brien
Rescue workers check on cars flooded by the sudden storms. Picture: Jason O'Brien

State Emergency Services (SES) received more than 46 calls for help during the early afternoon, for leaking roofs and blocked gutters from the deluge in Southport, Ashmore and Arundel.

More than 11,000 homes were without power at the storm's peak, mostly around Labrador, Southport, Surfers Paradise and Paradise Point.

Rides at all of the city's theme parks ground to a halt until the storm passed and tram services were also stopped between Broadbeach and Southport.

The Gold Coast University Hospital was also affected, with staff using back-up generators after power was lost between 12.30pm and 1.45pm.

"A small number of surgical and outpatient appointments were cancelled as a precaution given the ongoing storm activity," a spokeswoman said.

 

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Rain floods the entryway to a car park in Southport. Picture: Emily Halloran
Rain floods the entryway to a car park in Southport. Picture: Emily Halloran

Southport Chamer of Commerce felt the power of the storm, forced to cancel its Christmas lunch at the Broadwater Parklands, after its marquee was battered by rough winds.

Weather forecasters admit the sudden burst came largely out of the blue.

The Bureau of Meteorology's David Crock said the storms were hit and miss across the Coast.

"A storm developed on top of Southport and it didn't really move for an hour and a half," he said.

"We knew there would be storms around but the fact that it popped right up and sat in one spot there was quite remarkable and it's basically impossible to forecast that happening.

"It was very localised, 120mm fell at Southport, but at Evandale, at the back of Broadbeach they only got 24mm.

A car is flooded on the corner of the Gold Coast Highway in Southport. Picture: Jason O'Brien
A car is flooded on the corner of the Gold Coast Highway in Southport. Picture: Jason O'Brien

"That amount of rainfall in an hour - 120mm in an hour - that is very, very unusual, and statistically it's a one in 50 to a one in 100 year event."

Council also deployed clean up crews to suburbs around the central Gold Coast, but understood it did not receive many calls for help.

However almost 30 insurance claims have already been lodged with RACQ for storm damage from spreading Arundel to Runaway Bay.

An RACQ spokeswoman urged residents to keep storm safe.

"We are now in the peak of storm season, so this is a wakeup call to everyone that they need to tidy up their yards and put objects like trampolines, outdoor tables and chairs in the shed or undercover, so they are not a projector to make any damage," she said.

A cyclist makes their way through the flood water. Picture: Jason O'Brien
A cyclist makes their way through the flood water. Picture: Jason O'Brien

There is another chance of storms again on Saturday and Sunday but it is unlikely storms will be as severe.

While the wet weather has been a welcome relief, it hasn't been enough to be drought-breaking, with fire authorities extending the region's local fire ban until December 20.

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokesman said conditions were still perfect for bushfires to ignite and spread quickly.



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