• Swarms of yellow-tailed grasshoppers have swamped Central Desert towns. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
Several Indigenous communities west of Alice Springs including Kintore, Kiwirrkurra, Willowra and Nyirripi have been cut off by heavy rainfall and need food supplies to be air-dropped.
By
Lucy Hughes Jones

Source:
AAP
25 Jan 2017 - 5:10 PM  UPDATED 25 Jan 2017 - 5:29 PM

Northern Territory aircraft are struggling to deliver food to flood-affected remote communities as torrential rains are luring swarms of insects into Central Australian outback towns.

Some dirt airstrips in the region have become too wet to land safely and conditions in Alice Springs are too dismal for take-off.

"We can't see the mountain ranges at all today, we're going to have to delay flights out of here," Chartair's Robyn Lelliott told AAP.

"Kiwirrkurra is one of the most isolated communities in the world, they are so reliant on our services. The next couple of days are not looking good for flying."

The planes will carry about 700kg of frozen foods and staples for each community trip, and pilots are hoping for strong winds to dry the runways.

Some Beswick residents are being evacuated to higher ground with minor flooding along the Waterhouse River.

Katherine has been cut off and the deluge has allowed a goldmine north of the town to release contaminated water, with the nearby Edith River flowing at a high enough rate to dilute it.

Video of the Todd River flowing in Alice Springs:

Meanwhile, thousands of grasshoppers have descended on Alice Springs and the surrounding desert region after the recent storms.

The Arid Lands Environment Centre says the growth of the extremely flammable buffel grass weed, a key threat to native biodiversity and bushfires, has also risen.

"Drenched deserts means burning deserts in the next six to 12 months," ALEC Director Jimmy Cocking said.

"We've got explosions in grasshoppers, snakes, scorpions, rats and mosquito numbers. We've had warnings about deadly mud disease (melioidosis) and Murray Valley Encephalitis as a result of the high rainfall."

The rainfall recorded this wet season has already topped the total from last year, and this week Darwin registered 150mm in 24 hours - the wettest day in five years.

The Bureau of Meteorlogy has issued a severe weather warning for heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding in the Daly, Gregory and parts of the Arnhem, Carpentaria and Barkly districts.

A flood watch has been issued for the western, eastern and central Inland rivers along with the north western coastal rivers.

Conditions are gradually easing, but Territorians but showers are predicted for most of the Top End tomorrow.

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