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Monday 3 April 2000

Cyclone Tessi harries Townsville and north Qld coast
Category 2 tropical cyclone Tessi crossed the north Queensland coast about 20km south of Lucinda at around 6 this morning, with the city of Townsville, 80km southeast, bearing the brunt of gale force winds and a day of intense rainfall. 416mm -- nearly a foot and a half -- pelted down between midnight and 9pm, completely isolating the city, cutting 10,000 phone services and causing a mudslide on Castle Hill in the city's centre. Gale force winds unroofed over 100 homes and brought down powerlines blacking out 50,000 residences.

 Tessi remained slow-moving as it crossed the coast, putting Townsville in the zone of its strongest winds and heaviest rain to give the city a diabolical day. Rain fell relentlessly (see the 3-hourly totals in the box below), cutting all roads into the city. Although the highest sustained wind speed measured at the airport was only 74km/h, wind gusts to 130km/h were reported in the press. With roads flooded and strewn with trees and debris, police appealed to people between Cardwell and Ayr to stay indoors, and all schools in Townsville, Ingham and the Burdekin were closed during today and Tuesday.

The impossible conditions forced electricity repair crews off the road, with downed powerlines cutting electricity to most of the city. Power was still not restored to 20,000 consumers by Tuesday night, and was not expected to be fully restored for 3 or 4 days. Looting was widespread during the blackouts, with at least 40 businesses and homes in Townsville suburbs broken into. Two yachts were washed up on Strand Beach, and at least 100 houses were completely or partially unroofed. One house was reported blown over by the wind. A landslide triggered tonight by the heavy rain threatened 130 homes on Castle Hill, just north of the Townsville CBD. About 100 people were forced to evacuate, but daylight on Tuesday revealed that only 4 homes were in still in danger and at least one inundated with mud and water. Houses were also damaged and powerlines brought down on Magnetic Island, just off the coast from Townsville, and at Rollingstone, 50km northwest. 

Today's highest rainfall totals for the 24 hours to 9am

202.0 Townsville AP Qld
173.0 Finch Hatton Qld
166.0 Dalrymple Heights Qld
113.6 Giru Qld

Today's highest & lowest temps

Other extremes

Cygnet Bay WA: 43mm in 3h to 9am
Cape Don NT: 44mm in 2h to 3pm
Darwin AP NT: 26mm in 3h to 6am
Townsville AP Qld: 416mm in 21h to 9pm falling as follows:
  59mm 3h to 3am
  49mm 3h to 6am
  61mm 3h to 9am
  61mm 3h to noon
  47mm 3h to 3pm
  56mm 3h to 6pm
  83mm 3h to 9pm
Coonabarabran NSW: 25mm in 3h to 6pm

Records set this day

Maximum Minimum
38.6 Urandangie Qld 28.0 Barrow Is AP WA
7.4 Mt Read Tas 0.5 Thredbo Village NSW

Greatest variations from normal

Maximum Minimum
31.0 East Sale AP Vic
22.1 Mitchell Qld
18.0 Kalgoorlie- Boulder AP WA
7.6 Robe SA

  • Times stated are the clock time in force in the relevant state or territory

  • Stories, including those in the archives, are as new and corrected information becomes available, with updates underlined

  • Australian Weather News gratefully acknowledges the Bureau of Meteorology as the collector and main source of meteorological data in Australia, along with the thousands of observers who record the weather and rainfall daily. I also thank Don White and the many contributors to the Aussie Weather mailing list who routinely provide much appreciated information.