Very heavy rains hit New South Wales over the past couple of days, causing widespread flooding and cutting power to about 100 000 homes but also extinguishing more than 30 fires, including one dubbed 'mega-fire.' Thousands of residents were ordered to evacuate on Sunday night, February 9, amid fears of rising floodwaters.
In 24 hours to 09:00 LT on February 10, much of the central and southern coast saw well over than 200 mm (7.87 inches) of rain, with most registered in Brogers (433.5 mm / 17.06 inches), Wattamola 418.6 mm / 16.48 inches), and Robertson (397.2 mm / 15.63 inches). Over the past 4 days, some places have seen between 600 and 700 mm (23.6 - 27.5 inches).
NSW capital, Sydney, received 391.6 mm (15.4 inches) of rain from February 7 to 10, over 4 times the average rainfall for February, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM)-- the wettest since 414.2 mm (16.3 inches) fell from February 2 to 5, 1990. The result was one of the worst floods the city has seen in almost 30 years.
BOM added that other notable events were 452.8 mm (17.8 inches) from August 5 to 8, 1986, and 421.8 mm (16.6 inches) from November 6 to 9, 1984.
On Sunday, authorities advised thousands of people to evacuate, with the State Emergency Service (SES) warning anyone who stayed behind risked being trapped. In Richmond Lowlands and the city's northwest area, residents were urged to flee their homes by midnight as the Hawkesbury River burst its banks.
About 100 000 homes also lost electricity during the weekend, BBC reports. On Monday, over 86 000 people remain without power, with utility companies bringing in additional crews to help with the restoration.
On a lighter note, the NWS Rural Fire Service (NWS RFS) announced on Monday as well that the rains since Friday have helped firefighters put out more than 30 fires, including some that had been burning for weeks and even months.
"This is the most positive news we've had in some time," NWS RFS wrote.
A severe weather warning for heavy rain, high winds, and large waves have been issued along the entire coast, from the Northern Rivers to the South Coast.
The rain was Sydney's heaviest in 30 years, with BOM acting NSW state manager Jane Golding saying, "we haven't seen anything like this since the late 1990s."
NSW RFS said they are expecting all fires in NSW to be extinguished by the end of the week.
This is the most positive news we've had in some time.— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) February 10, 2020
The recent rainfall has assisted firefighters to put over 30 fires out since Friday. Some of these blazes have been burning for weeks and even months.#NSWRFS #NSWFires pic.twitter.com/fNyuSE6nAx
Featured image credit: Alex Clifton