10 May 2023

Police warn motorists to stay off roads as more rain threatens Cape

| Matt Nicholls
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CAPE York police are urging local residents to avoid driving on the roads as the wet season kicks in, causing rivers to flood and dirt roads to turn into quagmires.

Parts of the Cape copped a huge amount of rain last week, with Weipa recording its wettest day in five years on Friday with 237mm measured at the airport.

“Now is not the time to be getting in the car and driving,” said Acting Cape Inspector Dave Perry.

“The roads are wet, the creeks and rivers are up and you’re more likely going to be needed to be rescued than getting to your destination. It’s just not worth the risk.”

For those living in Cooktown, Hope Vale and the southern Cape, the Mulligan Highway to Mareeba has remained open, however the McLeod River near Mt Carbine did come up on Sunday for a short period of time.

The other major rivers are all up, with the Archer, Wenlock and Laura crossings all impassable at the time of writing on Monday.

More rain could be on the way as a tropical low that decimated parts of Western Australia makes its way to Cape York and other parts of the state.

Ex-tropical cyclone Ellie is currently still over the Northern Territory after wreaking havoc in Western Australia, with falls of 80mm-100mm on Sunday night.

In coming days, the remnants of the system will move to Queensland, bringing widespread rain and thunderstorms to northern, central, and eastern parts of the state.

Dean Narramore from the Bureau of Meteorology said the main centre of the weather activity would be around the tropical north, including Cairns and the Gulf of Carpentaria, reaching south into Longreach and possibly Mackay.

The Cape is already soaked after constant rain since Christmas Day.

Weipa recorded its wettest day in five years on Friday when 237mm was dumped on the town in just a few hours after lunch.

“That’s a really good soaking,” said Weipa Town Authority chair Michael Rowland, who said he tipped out 245mm from his rain gauge in Nanum.

Ironically, the community which recorded the most rain in 2022 has been relatively dry.

Lockhart River has received just 202mm since Christmas.

Rain since Christmas

Southwell Station 758.2mm

Rocky Point (Weipa) 716.6mm

Weipa Airport 705.8mm

RAAF Base Scherger 699.8mm

Kowanyama 672.2mm

Bramwell Roadhouse 581mm

Moreton 555.6mm

Piccaninny Plains 475mm

Merluna Station 444mm

Cape Flattery 443.4mm

Horn Island 428.6mm

Cooktown Airport 415mm

Archer River 387.4mm

Mount Carbine 284mm

Coen Airport 274.2mm

Lockhart River 202.2mm

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