Brollies go up as rain ushers in Cairns' new year
IT will be a wet start to 2013 after the heavens finally opened to end the Far North's dry spell yesterday.
After facing the driest December in 40 years, Cairns received almost a quarter of the month's total rainfall in one day, while thunderstorms brought heavy rain farther south.
Forecasters are tipping more showers today, in what will be welcome news to residents with parched lawns across the region.
Babinda, south of Cairns, experienced the biggest downpour yesterday morning, with about 80mm falling in 90 minutes.
The weather bureau issued severe storm warnings for the Tablelands and parts of the North Tropical Coast, with Gordonvale and Tully hit by storms earlier in the day.
Cairns yesterday recorded 10.4mm of rain to 9am to take its total rainfall for the month to 42.6mm, still well below the December average of 180.7mm.
It was the driest December since 2005, when only 35mm of rain was recorded.
Local weather duty forecaster Adam Woods said an upper trough would bring showers to Cairns and heavier falls to the Tablelands and coastal regions.
"There is some scattered shower activity around for Cairns, with some moderate to heavy falls south of Cairns," he said.
Meanwhile, Tully has made a late push for the coveted Golden Gumboot, which is awarded to Australia's wettest town.
Despite lagging behind Babinda, Tully recorded 128mm before 9am yesterday, making sure the annual contest will go down to the wire.
The result should be known by the end of the week when rainfall tallies are officially recorded.
Tully resident Linda Timms, who organises the annual Golden Gumboot festival, said the bragging rights to the country's wettest town were hotly contested.
"Tully's rainfall is always measured precisely," she said.
"It's just a fun thing and we all need the rain."
Heavy rain was recorded in Townsville with the main outdoor New Year celebrations and entertainment cancelled, although the midnight fireworks display was last night expected to proceed.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said it was too dangerous for bands and crowds to gather at the outdoor venue when severe lightning storm warnings were issued for the city.
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Party mood: Andre Lemberg and Martina Willners were well prepared for some damp New Year's Eve celebrations on the Esplanade. Pictures: BRENDAN FRANCIS