Workers clean out a flooded hardware store in Bundaberg, near the eastern coast of Australia, on January 1.
Tropical rains pounded the Australian state of Queensland after Christmas, and the floodwaters have worked their way toward the sea, inundating 22 towns and cities, affecting 200,000 people, and shutting down shops, mines, and a major port.
The Australia Bureau of Meteorology warned in mid-December of unusually heavy rains to come, fueled by a strong La Niña pattern of ocean currents this year—the strongest in decades, according to a scientist quoted in New Scientist. These rains fell on ground already saturated from above-normal rainfall during the preceding months.
The floodwaters are now receding in some areas, while in others the water levels are still near their peak.
German tourists got stranded in crocodile-infested waters when trying to cross the Magela Creek in Jabiru, a small village in the heart of Australia's vast Kakadu National Park. Minor flooding has also hit this region, in Australia's Northern Territory.
The four tourists took refuge on the roof of their SUV until rescued by a police truck outfitted with an exhaust snorkel.
Photograph courtesy Northern Territory Police
Despite flooding on the runway, a small plane takes off from the Rockhampton airport, near Australia's eastern coast.
As of January 5, rainfall continued along Australia's eastern seaboard, including the famous Sunshine Coast. But the floodwaters were starting to recede in many areas, including Rockhampton, and locals were beginning to clean up and assess the damages.
Photograph by Daniel Munoz, Reuters
Precisely laid rows of crops have been covered by murky brown floodwaters in eastern Australia.
The floods have destroyed some of the country's cotton—a major cash crop—and several wheat fields, while slowing shipments of other goods.
In all, the floods may cause more than $1 billion in crop losses, according to an estimate cited by National Underwriter Online News.