2019 Weather Event

In late January and early February 2019, the Townsville local government area experienced an unprecedented weather event (2019 weather event).

The 2019 weather event was the largest rainfall event to have occurred over the Townsville catchment in the past 120 years.

To put this into perspective, over the course of the 2019 weather event, the Ross River Dam (RRD) received 850,000 megalitres of rainfall, which is 3.8 times the RRD's capacity.

Based on hydrological analysis that has subsequently been conducted, the RRD experienced rainfalls and flood volumes over a 7-day period (from 29 January 2019 to 5 February 2019) which exceeded a "one-in-1,000 year" event. This means that every year, there is a one in 1000 chance of this type of event occurring.

Throughout the event, rainfall was measured at historic highs and the level of water in the RRD exceeded the greatest flood on record peaking at 43.00m and a capacity of 247%.

This event was exceptional between 25 January and 14 February 2019 with 39 local government areas affected by the monsoon trough and significant rainfall and flooding.

Townsville City Council’s (TCC) response to the 2019 weather event was well-coordinated with other agencies through the Townsville Local Disaster Management Group (TLDMG) and was effective in keeping the community informed, protecting life and property and managing the supply of essential services.

Throughout the event, the TLDMG conducted the following:

  • 50 emergency alerts
  • More than 200 traditional media communications
  • More than 3,600 social media communications
  • Approx. 40 radio advertisements per day
  • Approx. 15 radio live reads per day
  • The establishment of the 'Townsville Disaster Information' Facebook page which provided the community with 'real-time' updates and a channel for two-way communication
  • The establishment of the Emergency Management Dashboard which provided the community with a central location for 'real-time' updates
  • The provision of 143,000 sandbags and 9,000 tonnes of sand to residents and businesses
  • The opening of six evacuation centres that provided temporary accommodation, which at its peak accommodated more than 800 people
  • The deployment through TCC of more than 80 trucks and 52 Council crews to support the community during the floods, including one TCC truck used to facilitate flood evacuations of residents under QPS direction
  • Mobilisation of resources to assist with bulk waste collection and the removal of debris, other damaged items and rubbish following the 2019 weather event. In this respect, the Australian Defence Force collected 5,840 tonnes and TCC collected over 19,000 tonnes of bulk waste
  • The clean-up effort coordinated by TCC in the immediate aftermath of the event, including more than 700 jobs by not-for-profit entities such as Team Rubicon, Combined Churches and Samaritan’s Purse (to assist those without insurance) and over 400 washouts conducted by the SES.

An independent review has been conducted to assess the effectiveness of preparedness activity for and response to the weather event that occurred in North Queensland.

This report examines how the Queensland Disaster Management System prepared for, responded to and provided early relief and recovery to those impacted by the monsoon rainfall and flood event.

2019 Monsoon Trough Rainfall and Flood Review Submission to the Office of the IGEM 
2019 Monsoon Trough Rainfall and Flood Review
(PDF, 30MB)
Submission to the Office of the IGEM
(PDF, 748.6 KB)

Download the Townsville 2019 Weather Event Timeline PDF