Queensland got nearly five feet of rain in three days in 1918. It looks like the Guardian suffered two 100 year stupidity events on the same day.
Queensland 1918, a devastating couplet
The year 1918 was noteworthy in northern Queensland for two of the worst cyclones in the country’s history. Both systems were very intense; both inflicted heavy damage on significant population centres.
The first, which struck in January 1918, became known as the “Mackay cyclone”, because of the heavy damage in Mackay and surrounding areas. The unfortunate town suffered a “double whammy” of severe wind damage and spectacular flooding. In all, 30 people lost their lives, mainly in Mackay and Rockhampton.
The cyclone announced itself in Mackay late on the 20th with rapidly strengthening winds and heavy rain squalls. As conditions worsened, terrified residents had to contend with buildings disintegrating, gas and water supplies failing, and roofing iron scything though the air. Barometric pressure plunged to 933 hPa, one of the lowest values ever recorded in Australia.
To make matters worse, a storm surge inundated the town around 5am. One witness reported seeing large waves – up to 2.7 metres – breaking in the centre of Mackay! Of 19 cyclone-related deaths in Mackay, most drowned in the storm surge. More died when the schooner “Orete” was wrecked at sea; the sole survivor was found 19 days later.
The cyclone generated phenomenal rainfall: 1411mm in three days at Mackay Post Office. A huge flood was generated on the Pioneer River – the highest since European settlement. Further south, the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton peaked at 9.3 metres on 23 January – a record broken only a few days later when further heavy rain pushed the still-swollen river past 10 metres. Some 1400 Rockhampton homes were affected by the flood, and six people drowned.