Bridges, homes, and entire towns are underwater and raging rivers are continuing to rise as the flood emergency gripping New South Wales is predicted to continue for months.
Floods not seen since the 1961 disaster have swamped hundreds of homes and forced thousands to evacuate between Sydney and Byron Bay after five days of torrential rain.
Rain is forecast to finally stop today, but the NSW State Emergency Service said the floodwaters could remain for weeks or months to come in many areas.
The SES said the near-record floods were so widespread and will take so long to recede for two reasons – the torrential rain over the past five days and the wet weather in 2020.
‘Because NSW had so much rain consistently for months in 2020, the soil is saturated which means it cannot take any more water in and that is why we have such a big flood event,’ the SES told Daily Mail Australia.
The NSW SES said the near-record floods were so widespread and will take so long to recede for two reasons – the torrential rain over the past five days and the wet weather in 2020
Floods not seen since the 1961 disaster have swamped hundreds of homes and forced thousands to evacuate between Sydney and Byron Bay after five days of torrential rain
Rain will finally stop today, but the NSW SES said dangerous floodwaters could remain for weeks or months in many areas
‘I’m not saying we wouldn’t have had a flood, but it’s much worse than had we not had months of rain before the last four to five days because the ground was already saturated.
‘Also, not everyone knows this, but water has to flow down a river system and a lot of our river systems flow up towards Queensland before they flow down to South Australia.
‘This means flooding can continue for several weeks or months even in areas where rain did not fall. This is called “riverine flooding”.’
Despite the rain easing, more flood warnings were issued on Tuesday night because water is moving downstream and impacting new areas.
‘The soil cannot take any more water so the water needs to travel somewhere. In the case of the Hawkesbury-Nepean, it will travel out to sea,’ the SES said.
‘Which is why we are now starting to see evacuation warnings for places like Wiseman’s Ferry – because the water is starting to travel down that catchment.
‘Water travels in wonderfully mysterious ways. It builds and then travels through a river system – it doesn’t only flood in the area where the rain fell.
‘For this floodwater to completely subside, even if does not rain, would take weeks in some areas and months in others.’
Eight months worth of rain fell on parts of NSW in just the past seven days with some towns receiving a full metre of water and some hit by four times their monthly average in just a day.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster, Agata Imielska, said many low-lying inland areas were still under serious threat with more rain falling on flooded areas.
‘With those dangerous conditions… that flood risk is very much with us and it is very important for the communities to stay across the current flood and severe weather warnings,’ she said.
‘We’re not out of the woods yet.’
People are seen on a jet-ski in a flooded street in Windsor, northwest of Sydney
Members of the SES take medical supplies and relief goods to flood-affected residents during rescue operations in Windsor
Members of the SES with supplies in Windsor
Kids on canoes in front of properties ravaged by floodwaters in Windsor
Comboyne and Mount Seaview, both on the Mid North Coast, were among the areas to get more than a metre of rain, with 1034mm and 1083mm falling respectively.
Flood warnings for the swollen Nepean, Hawkesbury, and Colo rivers on Sydney’s outskirts remain in place.
SES Commissioner, Carlene York, said more flooding was expected in Colo, northwest of Sydney, overnight.
‘This rain is incredible and it’s just not stopping,’ she told 2GB radio.
‘The Colo River is rising much more rapidly than we expected. There are around 200 homes that are already isolated and access is quite difficult.’
The Hunter River is expected to reach 11.5m on Wednesday, prompting evacuation orders for low-lying areas downstream of Singleton, 70km northwest of Newcastle.
‘Storm and flood impacts may interrupt essential services such as electricity, phones, internet, water and sewerage,’ the SES Hunter Unit.
‘People in these areas need to closely monitor weather and road closures and make informed decisions early based on individual circumstances.
‘Residents should monitor the situation and be prepared to evacuate when instructed to do so.’
A family of four, including two young children, were plucked from the raging Hawkesbury on Tuesday after their SES rescue boat capsized
A family and dog rescued by a SES crew make it to safety after being trapped by rising floodwaters in Sackville North, 80km northwest of Sydney
A girl is carried to safety by a State Emergency Service member after a floodwater rescue operation in Sackville North
People are evacuated by a rescue boat after getting trapped by floodwaters on the Hawkesbury River
A young girl from North Richmond, 62km northwest of Sydney, is transported across the floodwater by SES to visit her sister in a nearby hospital
The south coast of NSW is now under threat as well, with the weather system that drenched northern parts of the state and Sydney now moving south.
‘When that low pressure system comes through later today, we will see heavy rainfall and flood risk on the south coast as well,’ Ms Imielska said.
Elsewhere, flooding is expected to create further chaos and mass evacuations in Southeast Queensland, as an emerging risk develops for eastern Victoria and eastern Tasmania due to the weather system moving south.
Homeowners in the town of Beaudesert, 50km south of Brisbane, were ordered to evacuate on Tuesday night after the Logan River reached major flood levels over 12.22m.
‘Residents in the area have been asked to secure their belongings, warn their neighbours and move to higher ground,’ the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said.
The Bureau of Meteorology warns the extreme weather battering all mainland states and territories except Western Australia is far from over.
‘After days of heavy rain we’re finally seeing it start to ease,’ the bureau tweeted on Tuesday night.
‘While it’s some good news for hard-hit communities, it’s not the end of the story. Many areas are still facing significant flood risk, and in some communities waters are yet to peak.’
People are seen in a flooded street in Windsor, 45km northwest of Sydney
People inspect what’s left of the Windsor Bridge after the Hawkesbury River flooded
A house is surrounded by flood waters in Londonderry in western Sydney
In northern NSW, residents in low-lying areas of Southgate along the Clarence River were ordered to evacuate on Tuesday night.
‘Once floodwater passes 5.4m on the Grafton gauge roads in and around Southgate will begin to close and properties may become inundated,’ an SES alert stated.
Moree residents on the NSW northern tablelands were issued with a similar warning with the Mehi River predicted to peak at 10.4m on Wednesday night.
A flooded farm land near Lismore in northern NSW
A farmer paddles his kayak through a field near Kempsey on the NSW Mid North Coast on Tuesday
Sydney’s north-west isn’t out of the woods just yet with major flood warning still in place. Pictured is Windsor inundated with water on Tuesday
The Australian national flag pokes out of the swollen Hawkesbury River as NSW experiences severe flooding
An inland weather system coming across from the Northern Territory is impacting the towns of Grafton and Lismore in the NSW northern rivers region.
Evacuation warnings remain at Kempsey on the NSW Mid North Coast, while the Hunter, the Central Tablelands and the south coast are in for a drenching.
A major flood warning also remains place for the Orara River at Glenreagh and Coutts Crossing in northern NSW.
The flooding crisis in Sydney isn’t over either with warnings of moderate flooding along the Nepean River at Penrith.
A major flood warning was issued for the Upper Nepean-Hawkesbury River at North Richmond was issued on Tuesday night.
Rain began to ease in coastal areas on Tuesday evening, but the Bureau of Meteorology says conditions will remain severe for inland NSW.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said locals affected by the catastrophic weather event were at ‘breaking point’. Pictured: McGraths Hill, north west of Sydney
Residents place their furniture on stools in the hope it will protect to from flooding in Londonderry, western Sydney
A man on a kayak makes the most of a bad situation by knocking back a beer as he paddles through floodwaters in Windsor
A man is standing on a paddle board in Richmond Sydney. Evacuation warnings are in place for parts of Western Sydney as floodwaters continue to rise
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has also warned that floodwaters will continue to rise after the rain has stopped.
‘If you have been asked to be on alert for evacuation, please get together your precious belongings, make sure you are safe and make sure you’re ready to leave at very short notice,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
Already, 34 NSW council areas have been declared natural disaster zones due to the massive floods.
A Swift Water Rescue team from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services rescued two men from their car in floodwaters at Beaudesert near Brisbane on Tuesday
Flash flooding cuts a road at Mudgeeraba on the Gold Coast on Tuesday with more road closures expected on Wednesday
In Queensland, four homes on the Gold Coast were evacuated due to landslide risk while more than 100 properties were inspected for damage in the southeast.
East of Brisbane, Lake Manchester Dam is spilling water and Seqwater has warned those downstream to avoid fast-flowing waterways and flood plains.
The Nerang and Coomera rivers on the Gold Coast have burst their banks, and there’s a flood warning for Maroochy and Mooloolah rivers on the Sunshine Coast.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services co-ordinator Brian Cox urged residents not to leave their homes.
‘It will not take much with the current rainfall they’ve already experienced, and the saturation levels we’ve currently got across southeast Queensland, for any minor storm to hit, to raise those flood levels and water levels across roads and as you know that can be quite dangerous,’ he said on Tuesday.
To the relief of many, the weather in NSW and Queensland is set to clear, and the focus will now turn south.
‘This stubborn weather system finally clears NSW and Queensland on Wednesday, leaving them relatively weather free,’ BOM meteorologist Jackson Browne said.
‘The coastal low moves into eastern Bass Strait on Wednesday, shifting our focus to the south.
‘Very heavy rain is forecast for exposed and elevated areas of the eastern Bass Strait and eastern Tasmania.’
Up to 100mm is expected to fall with up to 200mm on higher terrain.
Alicia Pitt and son Travis are evacuated by a rescue boat after getting trapped by floodwaters on the Hawkesbury River on Tuesday
FIVE DAY WEATHER FORECAST
WEDNESDAY: Min 18. Max 30. Sunny.
THURSDAY: Min 18. Max 28 Mostly sunny.
FRIDAY: Min 17. Max 25. Shower or two.
SATURDAY: Min 17. Max 27. Partly cloudy.
SUNDAY: Min 17. Max 25. Partly cloudy.
WEDNESDAY: Min 23. Max 32. Possible morning storm.
THURSDAY: Min 20. Max 31. Sunny.
FRIDAY: Min 19. Max 29. Sunny.
SATURDAY: Min 20. Max 29. Mostly sunny.
SUNDAY: Min 19. Max 30. Sunny.
WEDNESDAY: Min 15. Max 23. Shower or two.
THURSDAY: Min 14. Max 21. Partly cloudy.
FRIDAY: Min 13. Max 24. Partly cloudy.
SATURDAY: Min 15. Max 22. Possible shower.
SUNDAY: Min 13. Max 22. Partly cloudy.
WEDNESDAY: Min 13. Max 21. Shower or two.
THURSDAY: Min 12. Max 22. Partly cloudy.
FRIDAY: Min 7. Max 21. Mostly sunny.
SATURDAY: Min 9. Max 21. Possible shower.
SUNDAY: Min 7. Max 21. Partly cloudy.
WEDNESDAY: Min 16. Max 19. Showers.
THURSDAY: Min 15. Max 20. Shower or two.
FRIDAY: Min 12. Max 23. Partly cloudy.
SATURDAY: Min 15. Max 19. Shower or two.
SUNDAY: Min 12. Max 18. Possible shower.
WEDNESDAY: Min 13. Max 26. Sunny.
THURSDAY: Min 14. Max 25. Sunny.
FRIDAY: Min 15. Max 26. Sunny.
SATURDAY: Min 14. Max 30. Sunny.
SUNDAY: Min 18. Max 32. Sunny.
WEDNESDAY: Min 16. Max 19. Rain. Possible heavy falls.
THURSDAY: Min 15. Max 20. Morning rain.
FRIDAY: Min 11. Max 21. Partly cloudy.
SATURDAY: Min 12. Max 18. Shower or two.
SUNDAY: Min 10. Max 19. Partly cloudy.
WEDNESDAY: Min 25. Max 32. Shower or two. Possible storm.
THURSDAY: Min 25. Max 31. Shower or two. Storm likely
FRIDAY: Min 25. Max 31. Shower or two. Storm likely.
SATURDAY: Min 25. Max 32. Shower or two. Possible storm.
SUNDAY: Min 25. Max 33. Shower or two. Possible storm.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology
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