Residents are bracing for a potentially dangerous storm sweeping Australia’s east coast, bringing a weekend of heavy rain, massive swells and severe flooding.
The wild weather has been building in intensity as it made its way down the New South Wales coast this week, with parts of the state seeing their heaviest downpour on Friday in over a year.
Sydney was drenched by 79mm of rain on Thursday night, while Byron Bay was hammered with 281mm and forecasters have warned that heavy rain is on the way.
Sydneysiders will be reaching for their wet weather gear as the storm looks set to linger until at least Monday. There are also ‘intense rain bursts’ expected throughout the weekend.
Concern has now been raised after the torrential downpour wreaked havoc in Byron Bay on Thursday night – flooding streets and submerging cars.
Flood warnings have already been issued for Sydney, Wollongong, Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, Gosford and Nowra.
Motorists have been told to avoid risking their lives by driving through flood waters as they could be deadly.
Police warned drivers they could ‘die within minutes’ if they are not prepared.
‘Serious flash flooding under extreme rainfall areas could cut main roads and flood some yards, streets, businesses and houses etc. We will issue and post stern warnings very quickly if we identify live risks,’ the warning read.
‘Drive slower in rain and don’t drive into flood waters – or you could die within minutes.’
Bureau of Meteorology NSW manager Jane Golding said the coastal trough near the northern and central New South Wales coast was expected to deepen and gradually shift southwards over the next few days.
As the system moves, it will likely bring increased rainfall, dangerous wind and wild surf conditions along the central and southern parts of the coast and adjacent ranges.
She said there was a chance of an East Coast Low developing, which are a dangerous weather system that develops rapidly.
‘Awful events happened from East Coast Lows,’ Ms Golding said. The pressure system has washed away bridges and swept away cars in previous years.
Police and SES have also urged residents to avoid beaches as king tides are also expected.
Rock fishers have been told to avoid coastal rock platforms exposed to the ocean and seek a safe location that is sheltered from the surf.
Boaters planning to cross shallow water and ocean bars should consider changing or delaying their voyage, BOM said.
While the deluge of wet weather has helped fire-ravaged communities, with one third of blazes in NSW and the ACT being put out by the rain, concern has been raised about slips happening due to the decrease in vegetation, which typically stabilises the slopes.
A severe weather warning has also been issued for much of the NSW coast, stretching 1000km from Brisbane down to Sydney.
In Brisbane, the torrential rain has been wreaking havoc with more than 50mm of rain hitting the city in 24 hours.
Communities near Tin Can Bay, in the Wide Bay-Burnett region, recorded falls of more than 200mm – eight inches in the old measure – in the 24 hours to 9am on Thursday.
Farmers in drought-stricken areas in the north of NSW and the south of Queensland were celebrating the recent downpour.
National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson told The Australian the rain came ‘at almost the exact right time of year’.
🌩️⚡⚡ HEAVY BURSTS OF RAINFALL WITH STORMS IN NORTHWEST #NSW. Severe #Thunderstorm Warning for Heavy Rainfall for parts of the Upper Western, Lower Western and Central West Slopes and Plains. Latest warnings at https://t.co/vrZOdcTJ9k. pic.twitter.com/PzDN8Mwg3V
‘Farmers will be hoping that many millimetres of rain fall to replenish depleted soil moisture profiles and set up for the winter cropping season,’ she said.
Grain Growers Ltd chief executive David McKeon said some farmers on properties in the Liverpool Plains in northern NSW and central Queensland and the Darling Downs planted sorghum thanks to the rain.
Panic has set in as residents in Western Australia as they prepare for the onslaught of Cyclone Damien.
Supermarket shelves were stripped bare of meat, fresh fruit and vegetables and suppliers were racing to re-stock as the countdown begins for heavy rainfall and damaging winds on Saturday.
Weather forecasters believe it will be the most severe weather event on the Pilbara coast in six years, leading to widespread destruction for communities around Karratha, Port Hedland and Dampier.
The cyclone started forming off the coast of Western Australia on Wednesday afternoon, and was named by the Bureau of Meteorology after developing into a category one cyclone.
The cyclone was upgraded to a category four on Thursday night, the second-highest intensity, with wind gusts of up to 279kph expected.
All outdoor activities may have to be put on hold this weekend for as much of the country looks set to be drenched.
There is a high chance of showers on both Saturday and Sunday for Sydneysiders – with the storms lingering long into next week.
Melbourians have a few nice days of sunshine before the storms hit on Monday.
Brisbane has little chance of reprieve as the wet weather looks set to stay too. The chance of showers begins to dwindle later into the week, however, residents shouldn’t pack away their wet weather gear just yet.
There’s a 70 per cent chance of rain in Canberra over the weekend, with temperatures dropping to a cool 20C most days.
Thunderstorms are expected to smash Darwin over the weekend, however, heavy winds should begin to ease on Saturday afternoon.
Hobart seems to be missing the severe weather but it will miss out on sunshine too as low clouds linger over the city for most of the week.
Whereas Adelaide and Perth have a high chance of sunshine.