Sleepless night as deluge soaks 'disaster zone' Townsville, Queensland

The landslide caused a retaining wall to collapse on Stanley Street Townsville. Source Ben Downie/7NewsMore

The landslide caused a retaining wall to collapse on Stanley Street Townsville. Source Ben Downie/7NewsMore

Between 150 millimetres and 200mm of rain was expected across Townsville on Saturday - equal to about a month's average rainfall.

Parts of north and central Queensland could get another half a metre to a metre of rain over the next few days.

"If the rain continues overnight and into tomorrow, if we keep going the way we are today, we are talking about 10,000 to 20,000 homes", Chief Superintendent Steve Munro told reporters.

He understood the decision but said it was demoralising to see the destruction at his Hermit Park park home.

The Bureau of Meteorology said a slow-moving monsoonal trough was sitting above northern Queensland state, with some areas expected to receive more than a year's worth of rain before conditions ease.

The flood risk now extends from Ingham, north of Townsville, as far south as Mackay - which is about 500km away. "There is more rain to come", she told reporters on Sunday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has again ordered schools that were closed in north Queensland on Friday to remain closed on Monday.

According to the bureau, Townsville has already broken its record for the wettest seven days in a row, with 1,012 mm of rain falling by the end of Saturday compared to the previous record of 886 millimetres in 1998.

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Officials earlier warned that up to 20,000 homes could be flooded.

Residents in many suburbs across Townsville are warned that they may experience flooding from rapid rises of the Ross River.

Bruce Gunn, from Bureau of Meteorology, said the monsoon trough could generate tornadoes, with current severe weather warnings saying gusts of up to 125km/h are possible.

"We've used the cyclone siren a few times already in this event". We have applied that in short bursts when there are events of heavy rain... "We will continue to do that for the most intense of hazards as they occur".

Paul Shafer and his family lost two cars, a truck and a caravan when water was released from the dam, a risky move created to spare the town from more widespread flooding.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said about 1000 cubic metres of water a second was still going over the Ross River Dam spillway.

It is now sitting at 223 per cent of capacity.

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