The east coast of Australia was pummelling by torrential rain on Thursday, with Sydney receiving nearly a month’s worth of rain overnight, turning suburban roads into rivers and forcing evacuations, and forecasters forecasting more rain throughout the day.
According to media reports, emergency services rescued a man who had been washed away by floodwaters in the city’s northwest, while television footage showed automobiles struggling to navigate flooded streets, felled power lines and trees, and rubbish floating in rivers.
Overnight, residents of a nursing home were evacuated as emergency crews urged the city’s 5 million people to avoid unnecessary travel and prepare for probable evacuations.
“This is a really fluid situation. These events are taking place at a rapid speed.” Acting Commissioner Daniel Austin of the New South Wales emergency services remarked during a press conference. “Extremely acute, quick bursts of rain” have produced flash flooding almost every hour, he reported.
Sydney has received 1,227 mm (48 inches) of rain so far this year, which is higher than the city’s average annual rainfall of 1,213 mm. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, many coastal towns might get up to 180 mm (7 inches) of rain in the next 24 hours.
From 9 a.m. Thursday (2300 GMT, Wednesday) until 9 a.m. Thursday (2300 GMT, Wednesday), the tourist hotspot of Bondi received around 170 mm rain, according to official statistics (2300 GMT, Wednesday).
Nicola Gilfillan, a cafe owner in southwest Sydney, told ABC news, “All hands are on deck to try and preserve some furniture.” “So we’ve been quite busy hauling things up… moving things away, unplugging filters and electricity, and such.”
After a fuel pit at an Ampol (ALD.AX) factory in Sydney’s south spilled, oil mixed with flood waters, but emergency workers stated the spill was contained and there was no threat in the area.
A severe weather warning was in effect for more than 600 kilometres (373 miles) along New South Wales‘ south coast, but the meteorological agency predicts that conditions will improve starting Thursday evening.
The La Nina weather phenomenon, which is generally associated with extreme rainfall, has dominated Australia’s east coast summer for the second year in a row, with most rivers already at capacity before the latest rains. Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s major water source, is expected to overflow on Friday, according to authorities.
In the previous six weeks, three severe weather systems have crashed into eastern Australia, delivering record rains in parts of northern New South Wales and southeast Queensland, as well as Sydney’s wettest March on record.
Extreme weather is widely believed to be exacerbated by climate change, raising concerns about Australia’s preparation.
Several communities in northern New South Wales are still recovering from two fatal floods in March, but the state’s central and southern coasts have been struck by the latest weather event.