NSW emergency services are warning the worst is yet to come, with the state bracing for another day of heavy rainfall and life-threatening floods.
“The East Coast Low will continue to bring heavy rainfall today, concentrated all the way to Sydney, the Illawarra, Central Tablelands and the Hunter,” Yoska Hernandez, Meteorologist at Weatherzone, told Yahoo News Australia.
Between 150 and 200mm of rain is expected to lash the Illawarra region before 10pm, from northern parts of the district to Nowra, including Kiama, with falls of up to 100mm predicted to hit the southern district of Greater Sydney.
With over 70 evacuation orders already in place and 66 evacuation warnings issued, affecting 32,000 people, the SES is preparing for the worst with rain continuing to fall.
“We have seen rivers rise very fast, a lot quicker than expected, particularly a lot quicker than the community would be used to in recent years,” Ashley Sullivan, NSW SES Deputy State Duty Commander, told the ABC.
“And I will note that flooding in these areas is predicted to be of significant height, much higher than the March 2021 flooding and April 2021 flooding, and even the flooding earlier this year.”
Today's rain forecast in NSW. East Coast Low has weakened into a trough over the Hunter District, onshore airflow south of the trough is still directing humid air onshore which brings the chance of heavy rainfall today. Stay vigilant and monitor warnings: https://t.co/Ss766eSCrL pic.twitter.com/YM8cJlnQWY
— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) July 3, 2022
NSW Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke said her heart goes out to residents affected by flood waters once again.
“For many communities, this is the fourth flood they have seen in less than 18 months," she said.
"Some of those images are truly heartbreaking, seeing people’s homes, their lives turned upside down again and their livelihoods very much impacted.”
Ms Cooke says she is working with the Federal Government on plans for natural disaster declarations.
Fears for Western Sydney as rivers rise
Of most concern for emergency services is Western Sydney, where three major rivers have already burst their banks.
The Hawkesbury, Nepean and Colo rivers have all surged across the weekend, forcing residents from their homes as part of wide-scale evacuations.
Swollen waterways have also flooded parts of Camden and Chipping Norton.
“Hawkesbury-Nepean is certainly a concern of ours, particularly with the weather predicted in the next 24 to 48 hours,” Mr Sullivan said.
“If that rainfall does event out, that’s a real concern for the NSW SES."
"We are preparing. We’re mobilising as many emerging services as we can.”
Fears for residents in Western Sydney significantly escalated yesterday, with the death of a man at Abbotsford.
He had been kayaking in Parramatta River around 2.45pm, when his kayak capsized.
SES inundated with thousands of calls for help
Since the start of the deluge last week, the SES has responded to 3,500 requests for assistance, with 400 coming in overnight alone, while more than 20 flood rescues were carried out in the last 12 hours.
With large parts of NSW under threat, particularly in the Sydney basin, Illawarra, South Coast, Blue Mountains, Central West and Hunter Valley, residents are being urged to heed warnings of flash flooding and strong winds.
“We are expecting strong to gale force winds all the way from Batemans Bay to the Hunter coast,” Ms Hernandez said.
“That is going to extend from the southern areas to the northern areas including Greater Sydney.”
“With winds predicted to reach 70 to 85 kilometres per hour along the coast, they could exceed 90 kilometres per hour in exposed coastal locations.
Damaging surf is also expected with wave heights of four to five metres.
⚠️🌧️Severe Weather Warning continues for heavy rainfall. Locations which may be affected include Newcastle, Sydney, Penrith, Wollongong, Nowra, Bowral, Campbelltown, Katoomba & Lithgow. Details https://t.co/jJWt2wlxel #NSWFloods @NSWSES pic.twitter.com/y21y5576iZ
— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) July 4, 2022
A month’s worth of rain dumped on Sydney in three days
More than 109 millimetres of rain has fallen on the harbour city since Friday morning, well surpassing Sydney’s monthly average for July of 96 millimetres.
In Beaumont, about 18 kilometres north of Nowra on the South Coast, residents have received 395 millimetres, almost four times the monthly mean rainfall of 102 millimetres.
While in the Illawarra’s Albion Park, more than six times the monthly average rainfall has been recorded with 348 millimetres, making it the wettest July in more than 20 years.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.