As heavy rainfall sweeps across the south of Australia down to the country’s eastern parts, thousands of SES volunteers remain on standby as flood rescues begin.
Continuous falls have swamped several roads and forced a school in the NSW Mid-north Coast to evacuate, as residents are urged to cancel their travel plans to the worst hit areas today.
While several areas in Sydney have been pummelled with more than 50mm of rainfall, the far north is experiencing the worst of this weather, with some parts having received falls exceeding 200mm.
Throughout NSW, SES volunteers are busy attending to over 1200 calls for assistance having so far done 11 flood rescues.
Port Stephens and Coffs Harbour are among the worst-affected areas, as sandbagging continues around the most vulnerable homes as well as road closures in the same area.
According to Gavin Morris a weather forecaster, the rainfall could be “one in a generational”.
He explained that today’s main area of concern was the southern part of Clarence Valley in the Coffs Coast as well as Nambucca and Kempsey though the poor weather is expected to continue heading south.
“We’re going to see this system extend further south as we move through the weekend and that will continue to threaten the central coast, Sydney basin and then further south to Illawarra and Shoalhaven,” he told stormassist.
“So this is the most populated area of the nation and it’s going to impact a large amount of people with heavy localised flash flooding and the likelihood of broad scale river and low-lying areas to go under.
“So it’s a very dangerous system and we’re going to have to pay close attention to this because it will come through in multiple waves.”
A severe weather warning is in place this morning for the coastal area spanning north of Coffs Harbour to south of Gosford, with flood alerts being issued for various rivers.
Heavy showers on Thursday
Rain gauges along the coast recorded unbelievable numbers yesterday, as a month’s total of rain was received in just about three hours.
Seven Oaks lying between Yamba and Port Macquarie were the worst hit, with 289mm being received from 9am yesterday to 5am on Friday. About half of this was received in just three hours, surpassing the March average.
Areas around Kempsey received 179mm of rainfall as Alvadilla endured 214mm of downpour and 187mm in Blacksmiths in Lake Macquarie.
What to expect this coming weekend
Experts at the weather bureau say conditions are set to worsen ahead of the extreme weather tracking south to the Hunter, Illawarra and Sydney today and extending into the weekend.
Senior climatologist Agata Imielska said considering that the ground is already sodden, it “won’t take much rainfall” and hence flooding and “dangerously wet conditions” were expected.
“We are expecting some widespread heavier falls, potentially up to twice the amounts that may be recorded in nearby regions,” she said.
“It’s really about the amount of time this rainfall will fall.
“You’re really increasing the risk of flash flooding.”
Residents of Sydney have been asked to stay abreast with the weather updates moving into the weekend.
The weather bureau flood operations manager Justin Robinson noted that he was “very concerned about the potential for flooding along the coastal rivers”.
The number of rivers at risk this coming weekend included Sydney’s Hawkesbury, Nepean and Georges; though the floods are expected to be minor or moderate, with those further in the state’s north having received alerts.
The flood warnings put in place last night would affect Bellinger, Orara and Kalang rivers.
Flash floods are also expected within the Sydney metro area.
“We expect that rainfall to move south today and into the weekend and we’ll see that flooding develop in the Hunter and into areas around Sydney,” Mr Robinson noted.
The SES had received 135 distress calls by yesterday evening, with majority coming from the NSW Mid North Coast.
Currently, there are 2000 SES volunteers at the Mid-North Coast, and 4500 more in Sydney.
New South Wales warnings
A severe weather warning has been issued for the Mid North Coast and some parts of the Hunter and Northern Tablelands, as flash flooding was reported in some areas.
The affected regions include Taree, Maitland, Coffs Harbour, Newcastle, Port Macquarie and Gosford.
Heavy downpours bringing about flash flooding on the Hunter coastline is expected later today.
Intense falls and highly damaging winds averaging between 60-70km/h with gusts above 90km/h are forecast for this morning.
Bishop Druitt College within the Coffs Harbour had to send students home.
A statement on their Facebook page said the school had, “made the decision to evacuate the premises due to increased localised rain and high tide peaking at 12pm today, potentially closing North Boambee Road access to the school”.
Hazardous surf and road weather danger warnings have been issued in Sydney.
However, the drought-hit regions of Dubbo are enjoying the best showers in five years, as reported by Storm Assist.
More rainfall is forecast inland this coming week.
Stay up-to-date with NSW weather warnings at the BOM website.
Queensland weather warning
The state is bracing for more downpours, even after a town in Central Queensland recorded evacuations this week.
A weather warning that was in place for the Capricornia Coast has been cancelled, though warnings for thunderstorms have been issued for various areas including the Central Highlands and Coalfields inland areas from Rockhampton later in the afternoon.
Falls are expected to linger on to tomorrow, with temperatures set to be cooler than normal.
Flood warnings remain for the upper Warrego River alongside minor warnings for various areas including Paroo, Maranoa, Bulloo and upper Balonne.
A swell of at least 2.5 metres is expected during the weekend along the south coast beaches.
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