A massive storm sweeping across Australia’s east coast will devastate millions of people and flood-ravaged cities brace for another catastrophic weather event.
Multiple flood warnings have been issued across New South Wales, with south-east Queensland also in the line of fire.
The Bureau of Meteorology has warned of heavy rain and gales to lash the NSW coast from the Hunter region to the Northern Rivers overnight Thursday into Friday.
The miserable conditions will ruin the plans of many families wanting to get away over the school holidays which start this weekend in NSW.
As early as Thursday, the storm had caused airlines to cancel 100 domestic flights to and from Sydney. Meanwhile, a four-year-old boy and two women, 51 and 44, were also rescued after their vehicle was submerged in flood waters near Dungog.
Lismore residents, which have been devastated by two floods this year, are being urged to brace for wetter weather, with a minor to moderate flood warning being issued for the city’s Wilsons River.
A massive storm sweeping across Australia’s east coast will devastate millions of people and flood-ravaged cities brace for another catastrophic weather event
Photos show the rescue of a four-year-old boy and two women, 51 and 44, after their vehicle was submerged in flood water near Dungog on Thursday
“Depending on the location and intensity of the precipitation, above-average peaks could be possible from Friday and into the weekend,” warned the BoM.
Between 80 and 120mm of rain is expected to fall over parts of the central north coast over a 24-hour period, while severe weather warnings have been issued for the northern rivers.
Occasionally, rainfall of up to 200 mm is also forecast.
Within the last 24 hours, 100mm of rain has already lashed areas from Grafton to Coffs Harbour, while parts of the mid north coast have seen 180mm.
SES Commissioner Carlene York said there had already been 49 rescue operations and more than 500 calls for help during this flood event.
A moderate flood warning has also been issued for the Nambucca River in Bowraville on the north central coast of NSW.
Wee Waa, a town in the northwest of the state, was already hit by flooding and helicopters were delivering supplies.
NSW Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke warned on Thursday it was the start of a “very long season” for flood conditions.
“We are facing challenges on several fronts with ongoing flooding in western and north-western NSW, river surges in central west and southern parts of NSW,” she said.
Lismore residents, who have been devastated by two floods this year (pictured in March this year) are being urged to brace for wetter weather
A children’s playground was inundated by floodwaters in Camden, Sydney in July this year
A resident paddles a kayak to commute from her flooded residential area near the overflowing Hawkesbury River in the north-west Sydney suburb of Windsor in July
“Now communities in the Northern Rivers, Mid-North Coast and North Coast, which have been flood-weakened over the past few months, face a few uncertain days of deteriorating weather conditions.”
More than 50mm of rain has already fallen in parts of NSW since 9am Thursday.
Ms Cook said she was confident the emergency services were prepared to deal with the floods.
BOM meteorologist Jane Golding said flash flooding is possible in areas between the Central Coast and the Queensland border.
Flooding will be featured on a helicopter tour of the Hunter Region by NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet in July
A woman kayaks down a flooded road in Bligh Park in Sydney on July 4 after severe flooding
“We’re expecting 24-hour totals in excess of 100mm in areas, but we’re going to see some bullseyes that are higher and we’re going to see flash floods on those bullseyes,” Golding said.
“That’s enough rain to cause rivers to rise, roads to stall and dangerous driving conditions to occur. The ground is so saturated with the gusty winds across NSW at the moment that we can also expect downed trees.
Up to 80 flights were canceled at Sydney Airport on Thursday due to the disastrous weather.
The airport has blamed torrential rain and strong winds for canceling 45 flights from Sydney between 6am and 7.30pm.
Up to 41 flights to Sydney have also been canceled in bad news for travelers looking to take advantage of Thursday’s national day of mourning.
Operations should be back to normal by Thursday afternoon.