At least 10 dead in Australia as severe thunderstorms cause chaos over Christmas week

Intense rainfall up to 6 inches caused flash flooding and strong winds up to 70 mph knocked out power for thousands over Christmas and Boxing Day. Australia's Bureau of Meteorology reports a tornado was reported on the Gold Coast and Scenic in Queensland on Christmas.

Severe thunderstorms caused deadly flooding across eastern Australia over Christmas week while wildfires continue to burn in the west, fueled by a heat wave and the influence of the El Niño climate pattern. 

At least 10 deaths have been associated with the chaotic weather pattern, according to local authorities.

A low-pressure system tapped into tropical air from the north, fueling humid conditions and severe thunderstorms across eastern Australia beginning on Christmas Day, causing a multi-day severe weather outbreak, according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology. 

Severe thunderstorms continued to impact parts of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland on Tuesday, bringing hail, strong winds and intense rainfall. 


"Police are continuing to respond to ongoing requests for assistance following the severe storms that affected the region earlier this week, with fallen trees, powerlines and other safety hazards continuing to be observed," Queensland police said in a Facebook post. 

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said a 9-year-old girl was killed in Brisbane on Christmas during the severe weather. 

Three men died after a large motorboat overturned during the storm near Green Island in Queensland on Tuesday. Eight people were rescued from the water. Queensland Police said the bodies of 48-year-old, 69-year-old and 59-year-old men were later recovered. 

Also in Queensland, three women were swept away by floodwaters in Southside Gympie on Tuesday. One woman made it to safety. However, Queensland police said the bodies of 40-year-old and 46-year-old women were later found.

Reuters reports a man and woman died in flash flooding in Victoria, and two others were killed by falling trees. 

Teen missing after attempting rescue in rough surf

Multiple marine warnings for wind and high surf were in place during the multi-day storm event.

Officials with the New South Wales Police Force said a 19-year-old man is missing after going into the water to rescue a family member caught in rough surf. The man became caught in a rip current and was swept out to sea, according to police. 

Intense rainfall caused flash flooding and riverbeds to crest, with the highest 24-hour rain totals in Wedderburn, Victoria of 6 inches and Cockatoo Road, Queensland with 5.8 inches. Giant hail of nearly 2 inches was observed in New South Wales, and wind gusts topped 70 mph in parts of Queensland.

A tornado caused power outages and damages on the Gold Coast and Scenic in Queensland on Christmas, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Thousands in New South Wales and Queensland remain without power on Wednesday, according to multiple power providers in Australia. 

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology forecasts the continued threat of severe thunderstorms for eastern Australia on Wednesday, with relief in the stormy pattern on Thursday. Flood Warnings were in place for Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. 

The storms came about a week after Tropical Cyclone Jasper caused flooding in northeast Australia, prompting hundreds of rescues by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services. 

Flooding and high tides washed away roads in Holloways Beach. Local news outlets report river flooding washed crocodiles into suburban communities.

Heat wave continues fueling bushfire growth

Meanwhile, drought and an early summer heat wave are fueling bushfire growth in parts of Australia. Summer in Australia began in December, but the heat has been ongoing since September when the Climate Council declared the El Niño event underway in Australia. 


According to NASA's Earth Observatory data, the heatwave has been particularly brutal in Western Australia, with temperatures reaching 104 degrees, which is 18 degrees above normal for this time of year. A 21-year-old volunteer firefighter was killed Tuesday while responding to a bushfire in Esperance, reports Western Australia Today.

Australia's bushfire season typically peaks in January or February. This year, fire detections have topped the 2019-200 "black summer" in Australia, according to the Global Forest Watch

This week, heat wave warnings continue across Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland.