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Friday, July 30, 2021

BOM forecasts intense, prolonged rain as flash flooding hits northern NSW and Sydney

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BOM forecasts intense, prolonged rain as flash flooding hits northern NSW and Sydney

The State Emergency Service (SES) has warned people in NSW to prepare for dangerous flooding as torrential rain continues over the weekend.

There has been widespread flash flooding in coastal areas, with Byron Bay recording 280mm of rain and Coffs Harbour receiving 250mm overnight.

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Several roads in Sydney have been closed due to flooding and there were also delays on the city’s public transport network.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued a severe weather warning for heavy rainfall and damaging winds from Goulburn to the Queensland border on Friday.

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The SES has deployed additional volunteers to northern NSW but is also preparing for plenty of issues in Sydney and the South Coast, which are expected to get most of the falls this weekend.

NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott issued warned people to use common sense.

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“You would not walk into a bushfire so why would you drive through a flood,” he said.

“In previous seasons we have seen unnecessary risks taken by SES volunteers to recover … the bodies of motorist who have not heeded that particular warning.”

He said many beaches would be closed this weekend.

At Narara on the Central Coast, SES crews were seen rescuing drivers stuck in flooded waters.

BOM duty forecaster Jane Golding said there was potential for the system to evolve into an east coast low in the next two days which could be extremely dangerous.

“Bridges have been washed away … there are some really awful events that have happened from east coast lows.”

In the state’s north, a large strip of shops in Byron Bay was inundated with water after massive downpours overnight.

Real estate agent Jeremy Bennett said his shop was flooded when he arrived at work on Friday morning, and he’s not the only one.

“Most of the CBD is pretty low lying … the water can’t drain anywhere and the drains are blocked,” he said.

“My office looked like an island.”

Both farmers and firefighters on the North Coast are rejoicing.

“We’ve had no heavy rain at all, it’s been all light, steady rain, all soaking in it is,” said grazier Trevor Wingfield, whose farm is on the upper reaches of the Clarence Valley.

Mr Wingfield said his farm received 50mm of rain in the past 24 hours and he wanted more.

In Newcastle, preparations were being made ahead of wild weather this weekend, including large easterly swells and a two-metre high tide on Sunday.

The City of Newcastle has positioned 45 tonnes of sand in sandbags to protect Stockton Beach which has been ravaged by erosion in recent years.

Beach access points and local sportsgrounds will be closed.

Sydney has received some heavy falls, with 45mm recorded at Observatory Hill and 48mm in Canterbury since 9:00am.

In the west, some suburbs received more than 34mm.

Significant falls were also predicted over the Harbour City’s main drinking water catchments, which are at just 42 per cent capacity.

In the 24 hours to 9:00am, 47mm fell in the Blue Mountains catchments, while 41mm fell in the Nepean catchment and 19mm at Warragamba.

Water NSW said Warragamba Dam would be 47 per cent full after the wet weekend.

Several roads were flooded across Greater Sydney including in Dee Why, Drummoyne, Yagoona, Hurstville, Roseville, Northbridge and Katoomba.

Trains between Waterfall and Thirroul on the South Coast were been replaced by buses, while there were also delays on the North Shore line due to a fallen tree branch.

Buses have also replaced ferries between Parramatta and Rydalmere due to the Parramatta Weir overflowing.

The SES said it had received more than 900 calls for assistance across the state since the rain started and five flood rescues had been undertaken.

Most of those calls came from Northern NSW, the Central Coast, Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

SES Assistant Commissioner Paul Bailey said rescue crews were positioned up and down the coast “because we know this event will really go border to border”.

“We put crews in those areas where we traditionally have problems with people driving into flood waters,” he said.

The NSW Rural Fire Service said 1,200 firefighters were still working to extinguish 42 fires — 17 of those uncontained — still burning across the state.

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