Sydney flooding: Evacuations as Australian city receives a month’s rain in one night

Residents in parts of Sydney in Australia were ordered to evacuate to safety on Thursday after torrential rains lashed the east coast. Sydney received nearly a month’s rain in just one night.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for heavy rainfall for the entire New South Wales (NSW) coast and warned of a heavy downpour across Hunter, parts of the Central Coast, Greater Sydney, the Illawarra and South Coast.

As rain wreaked havoc and flash flooding was reported from across Sydney, NSW state emergency service said they received 680 requests for assistance and conducted almost 25 flood rescues.

Sydney’s five million residents have been urged to avoid unnecessary travel and to brace themselves for possible evacuation orders as severe weather continued to threaten the east coast after two separate devastating floods in March.

A man was swept away in raging floodwater on Thursday and narrowly escaped death after being rescued by two state emergency service crews at Devlins Creek in Epping, in Sydney’s north-west.

Visuals on social media showed vehicles stranded in waterlogged roads with fallen trees and debris floating in swelling rivers.

Residents of a nursing home were evacuated overnight while residents in the suburb of Kernell reported smelling petroleum after a pump in Australia’s largest fuel import terminal, Caltex Refinery, spilled oil and diesel.

The incident led to urgent road closures in the area as emergency workers managed the spill and worked to prevent contamination.

Sydney has received more than a year’s rain in just four months into 2022, recording 1,226.8mm of rain so far against the annual average of 1,213mm.

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The rainfall was “unprecedented” as it recorded nearly 200mm higher than the previous record to this point in the year, which was 1044mm in 1956, Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Domensino said.

The tourist hot spot of Bondi recorded around 170mm over the 24-hour period to 9 am on Thursday, the weather bureau said.

But the worst is yet to come as Sydney could get up to 180mm of rain through Friday and the weekend, the bureau said.

NSW authorities have issued at least five orders to evacuate from low-lying parts, including Woronora, Bonnet Bay, Chipping Norton, with a warning in place for Camden.

Authorities warned that Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s major water supply, is expected to spill over on Friday.

Cities were marooned once again as several towns across northern New South Wales were still struggling to clear tonnes of debris left by two separate devastating floods in March. However, the latest weather event has smashed the state’s central and southern coast.

Australia’s east coast, generally hotter and dryer, has been dominated by La Nina weather phenomenon, typically associated with increased rainfall, for the second straight year, with most rivers at capacity even before the latest drenching.

It was Sydney’s wettest March on record after three intense weather systems battered eastern Australia in six weeks.

The current deluge has added to the growing evidence gathered by scientists showing signs of climate change contributing to the severe weather.

Additional reporting by agencies

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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