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Major floods hit New South Wales, more than 30 000 people under evacuation orders in Sydney, Australia

australia flood nsw july 2022

Heavy rains hit parts of eastern Australia over the weekend, forcing the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) to issue Severe Weather Warnings for Sydney metropolitan, Illawarra and Central Tablelands districts.

  • An East Coast Low developed in the coastal trough on July 3, leading to further intensification of rain, wind and hazardous seas.
  • BOM predicted water levels in the areas of North Richmond and Windsor northwest of Sydney would peak at higher levels than in the past three major flood events since March 2021.
  • Longer-range forecasts indicate the heavy rain over eastern New South Wales (NSW) could continue into the second week of July.
  • 1 fatality

A coastal trough developed and deepened along the coast of central New South Wales on July 1, bringing widespread heavy rain to the region.

River levels started rising on July 2, forcing BOM to issue multiple flood warnings for parts of NSW, including major flood warnings for the Hawkesbury, Nepean, and Colo rivers.

“River levels in some parts of these catchments have already reached levels recorded earlier this year,” BOM meteorologists said on July 3, adding that some are likely to exceed the flood levels reached in the three major flood events since March 2021.

The East Coast Low is expected to weaken on Monday, July 4, along with easing rainfall, but the risk of major flooding will remain across parts of New South Wales.

Major flooding is occurring along the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers at Menangle, Wallacia and North Richmond with major flooding expected at Windsor and Lower Portland this afternoon (LT) and Wiseman Ferry on Tuesday, July 5.1

With significant rainfall totals over many catchments in the past three days, some areas are expected to approach or exceed flood levels of recent events in March 2021, March 2022 and April 2022, BOM said.

Severe weather warnings for damaging winds and hazardous surf are current for New South Wales and there remains the risk of flash flooding and landslips.

The heavy rains caused Sydney’s main dam to spill early Sunday morning (LT), water authorities said, adding that modeling showed the spill would be comparable to a major spill in March 2021 at the Warragamba Dam.2

“If you were safe in 2021, do not assume you will be safe tonight. This is a rapidly evolving situation and we could very well see areas impacted that have never experienced flooding before,” New South Wales emergency services minister Steph Cooke said in a televised media briefing on Sunday evening.

Floods submerged homes, farms and bridges in several west Sydney suburbs, after more than 200 mm (7.8 inches) have fallen over many areas, with some hit by more than 350 mm (13.7 inches) since July 2.

Since Sunday, about 30 000 residents in New South Wales state have been told to either evacuate or warned they might receive evacuation orders.

An unnamed man was killed after falling out of a kayak on the Parramatta River in western Sydney. Emergency officials attempted to revive the man after he was spotted struggling in the water by a member of the public, but he died at the scene.

40 homes were damaged at Bellambi and Corrimal and a two-story unit block had its roof torn apart after a tornado (possibly waterspout coming ashore) tore through parts of the Illawarra.3

SES volunteers responded to more than 900 calls for help across the South Coast, Illawarra and Southern Highlands throughout the weekend.

References:

1 Risk of flooding remains across parts of New South Wales as rainfall eases today – BOM – July 4, 2022

2 Floods hit southeast Australia, forcing evacuations – Reuters – July 3, 2022

3 BOM investigates possible tornado in the Illawarra after dozens of homes damaged – ABC – July 4, 2022

Featured image credit: 7News (stillshot)

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