Severe thunderstorms, heavy rains and hail likely in region

UPDATE: All Toowoomba and south-west region emergency services have been put on standby and are making preparations as severe thunderstorms begin hitting parts of the region.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and partner agencies Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service crews have been briefed on the weather situation resulting from Tropical Cyclone Owen in the far north.

QFES Acting Chief Superintendent Eddie Lacko said storms were expected to hit parts of the southwest region this afternoon.

"The Bureau of Meteorology has indicated severe thunderstorms with heavy rainfall and hail are likely in western Queensland and the south-eastern interior," he said.

Areas expected to be hit by the severe thunderstorms include St George, Quilpie, Thargomindah and Cunnamulla.

Severe thunderstorms are also likely between Goondiwindi, Stanthorpe and the Roma area, he said.

"With the storms coming, we would like people to secure all loose items and make preparations for storm activity," Chief Supt. Lacko said.

He said Toowoomba, which was expected to receive rain by the end of the week into the weekend, could also experience some thunderstorms.

"It is likely we will get some rain, but how much we just don't know," he said.

Chief Supt. Lacko urged people to secure loose items on their properties, clean gutters if possible, and take precautions against possible storm damage.

EARLIER, 9.15AM: THE entire south-west region is on flood watch as Tropical Cyclone Owen continues to taunt the northern east coast of Queensland.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Acting Chief Superintendent Eddie Lacko said all fire stations across the region, from Toowoomba and to west of Roma, had activated their swift-water rescue teams.

The early preparations come as the Bureau of Meteorology monitors the movements of TC Owen in waters of the far north coast.

Chief Supt. Lacko said the weather outlook was TC Owen would come back across the coast in the coming days.

"There is a potential (for it) to head down the coast as a tropical low and dump a lot of rain which, after the bushfires we've just had, will be a welcome relief," he said.

"The ground in the southwest region is fairly dry so a lot of that rain will also be a welcome relief.

"However, we ask people not to be complacent and be vigilant about flash flooding, right across the southwest region."

Chief Supt. Lacko said flood-prone creeks could quickly rise with rainfall of 50mm to 100mm expected from this afternoon through to the weekend and early next week.

>>MORE: CYCLONE WATCH: Queensland warned to brace for heavy rain

"We expect a bit of rain to start commencing this afternoon with a bit of storms, however the larger impact won't hit until the weekend and early next week," he said.

"It is an unusual weather pattern but we have seen it before a couple of years ago where we did see a significant amount of rain.

"But in light of the situation with farms and the drought, it will be a welcome relief."

The parched ground is likely to soak up the majority of the rainfall reducing the amount of water run-off, but Chief Supt. Lacko said the impacts of the flooded north Queensland region would be felt in the south-west in coming weeks.

"Don't be complacent about that," he said.

"In the future there might be significant water up north and the water may come down this way which, while it will be fantastic for our waterways, people should not cross the flooded creeks."

Regional fire crews were being deployed to northern areas including Cairns and Townsville to bolster emergency responses to the likely flooding situation on the coast.

"We're also conducting preparations for the weekend and into next week locally with swift water rescue teams activated in the unlikely event people try and cross (flooded) streams," Chief Supt. Lacko said.

He urged people to remember that if it's flooded, forget it.


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