Weather News

Four people rescued from flash flooding in NSW as low pressure system sloshes across the country

Friday November 12, 2021 - 03:18 AEDT
ABC image
More wet weather is expected today and catchments are already soggy.  - ABC

Four people have been rescued from flash flooding in northern New South Wales as a low-pressure system sloshes its way across the continent, bringing heavy rain, storms and flooding. 

Weather warnings are currently out in South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

Many changing warnings are expected over the next few days, so please keep up to date with your local warnings at ABC Emergency. 

In New South Wales, state emergency services say there have already been more than 250 calls for help, mainly in Moree, Tamworth and Coffs Harbour.

Overnight 15 caravans were moved to safety at a campground in Bingara, north of Tamworth.

Jan and John Elliott were rescued by SES when their caravan began to flood. 

"We couldn?t get out of the door because the water was smashing really fast," Ms Elliott said.

"I actually thought I would drown."

"The SES guy helped us out the window into quite a lot of water and strung some rope around the trees, and we had to hold on pretty tight to the rope to get to safety. They did a great job. I was very grateful."

SES Assistant Commissioner Dean Storey says authorities are expecting the number of calls for help to increase "quite significantly" as the rainfall sets in overnight and into the early hours of Friday.

"The key focus will be that Northern Rivers including Lismore and Ballina area," he said.

"We're expecting heavy potentially torrential rainfall tonight into the early hours of tomorrow morning creating a high risk of flash flooding and potentially life-threatening flash flooding."

So far, major flood levels have been reached on upper tributaries of the Macintyre River on the Queensland-New South Wales border between Warwick and Goondiwindi. 

Eighty-nine millimetres hit the nearby gauge at Kettle Creek Swamp in the 24 hours to 9am today.  

Fifty to 100mm fell under storms across parts of Queensland yesterday. 

Weringa Creek had 95mm, Stanthorpe 91mm, and Applethorpe 87mm. Applethorpe's rain is looking like a November record, with 54 years of data. 

Meteorologist Jonathan How said records had yet to be confirmed but it also looks like a few more could go through the centre of the country. 

The 32mm that fell at Coober Pedy would be the highest daily rainfall for November, compared with 28 years of data. Likewise, the 27mm at Birdsville would also be a record following 22 years of data.

Most locations in eastern New South Wales have seen some sort of rain in the 24 hours to 9am today.

"We generally saw totals about 30 to 50 millimetres with storms a little bit more patchy across New South Wales," Mr How said. 

Ninety-four millimetres fell at Delungra on the Gwydir River.

It comes after widespread heavy falls for the west, centre, and Queensland on Tuesday.

Alice Springs had its wettest day in twenty years, triggering the Todd River to turn into a torrent. 

Northern parts of South Australia have had falls of more than 50 millimetres, including 39.2 millimetres in Ceduna and 31 in Wuddina.

Col Greenfield runs Billa Kalina station north-west of Roxby Downs and says the rain has come at just the right time.

He says he was worried he was going to have to de-stock because of the dry conditions.

"It was starting to get pretty ordinary and we had quite a number of dams going dry and a lot of stock on pipelines and bores," he said.

"We got lucky enough to get 34 mils last night so that's certainly eased the pressure."

What is coming? 

The rain is expected to extend further towards the coast, with the main areas of focus in the Queensland, New South Wales border region and South Australia. 

"The low pressure system is really gonna be the focus of heavy rainfall across New South Wales, the ACT and for Victoria tomorrow," Mr How said. 

"The computer model guidance has been quite aligned with where this low pressure system will move."

They are all putting Canberra and the ACT right in the firing line. 

"The current forecast has Canberra receiving upwards of 80 millimetres over the next few days.

"If we do get to move over in a certain place, we could see much higher totals than that leading to localised flash flooding," he said. 

On the southern flank of the low-pressure system, strong easterly winds are expected to develop, bringing strong winds across parts of Gippsland and central Victoria.

"Unfortunately, those easterly winds are the ones that do bring the most grief. 

"The landscape is quite brittle at the moment with really sodden soils and quite weak tree limbs." 

He said the even if the winds do not technically reach severe weather warning thresholds they could still cause damage across southern Victoria and Melbourne, particularly on Friday. 

What is triggering all this rain? 

According to Mr How this drenching is being triggered by a couple of factors:

One is a tropical air mass that has been sitting over central and western Australia, fed by warm waters around Indonesia.

?We've been drip-fed this tropical moisture from north of the country. It's been sitting there and kind of brewing away nicely,? he said.

That moist air is now moving south and combining with unstable conditions enhanced by an upper-level trough. 

?At the same time, we've also got some cold winds coming through from the south, which is going to bring some cold weather to really reinforce those quite miserable conditions for large parts of the country,? he said.

The wet weather is expected to clear for southern Queensland and northern New South Wales on Friday, but the wet and cold conditions are expected to linger over the weekend for the southern states as a series of cold fronts make their way through. 

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© ABC 2021

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