SYDNEY — Around 500,000 people in and around Sydney were told to evacuate or prepare to flee flood waters through Thursday as torrential rain lashed an exceptionally long stretch of Australia’s east coast.
Rivers were surging in Australia’s most populous city of 5 million and New South Wales state minister for emergency services Steph Cooke warned of “treacherous weather conditions” over the next 24 hours.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology warned of life-threatening flash floods and damaging winds, with peak gusts in excess of 56mph.
Major flooding was expected along several rivers in and around Sydney. Dozens of suburbs were on high alert.
The State Ambulance Service issued evacuation orders to 200,000 residents and evacuation warnings were sent to a further 300,000.
New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet urged residents to take the orders seriously.
“We think things will get worse before they get better,” Perrottet said.
Minor flood warnings have also been issued for coastal communities up to 120 miles south of Sydney.
Flooding also rose in Brisbane, Australia’s third most populous city 450 miles north of Sydney, as severe thunderstorms hit.
Hailstones 2 inches wide battered the town of Inglewood, 170 miles southwest of Brisbane, early Thursday, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
Exceptionally heavy rain last week brought flash flooding to the Queensland state coast, 310 miles north of the capital Brisbane, and a southbound low-pressure system had since brought the rain south of Sydney.
The flooding has claimed 14 lives in Queensland and neighboring New South Wales since February 22, when the body of a 63-year-old woman was recovered from a submerged car in Belli Park, north of Brisbane.
In New South Wales, a 54-year-old man was found in a submerged SUV in Matcham, 50 miles north of Sydney, on Friday.
A man in his 70s was found in his flooded home in Lismore, New South Wales on Wednesday. Four people died in the city of 28,000.
Several Brisbane suburbs remain flooded after the river, which meanders through the city centre, peaked on Monday.
Queensland Fire and Rescue Services deputy commissioner John Cawcutt said hundreds of people had called for help in Brisbane – home to 2.6 million people – and surrounding areas amid heavy rain that caused flash flooding.
“We have strong winds and of course we have the potential for flash flooding out there because of the already soggy ground,” Cawcutt told Nine Network.
“Because of saturation, streams are rising very, very quickly – runoff, stormwater areas, water bubbling up from underground so it’s flowing across Brisbane,” Cawcutt added.
He described the dangerous weather spreading north of Brisbane and south of Sydney as a “huge event”.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Laura Boekel said thunderstorms carried the possibility of more flooding, stretching 280 miles north from Brisbane to Bundaberg over the next day or two.
“This is a very dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation for southeast Queensland,” Boekel said.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/03/australia-floods-put-500000-people-on-alert-as-rain-lashes-sydney/ Floods in Australia put 500,000 people on alert as rain lashes Sydney