Weather Australia: Evacuations NSW, Hawkesbury and Nepean Rivers flood warning

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About 600 residents of low-lying areas of the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley were asked to evacuate their homes on Friday evening as the river reached flood stage.

The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) responded to widespread flooding on the Hawkesbury River as rain subsided across the state.

At around 8:15 a.m. on Saturday, the flood waters of the Hawkesbury River near North Richmond reached their highest level of almost 10.5 metres.

The floods occurred at the end of an intense weather event during which over 2,000 SES volunteers responded to over 800 incidents and carried out 58 flood rescues in NSW.

Local resident Declan Murphy said all lowland areas around Richmond had been evacuated as flooding worsened throughout Saturday.

“My father once said many years ago, when we had the bad floods in 2019, that you would be lucky if you saw one or two of these in your life, but now I have seen so many,” he said.

“The flooding will have a massive impact on the region and the mountains, particularly over this long weekend which is usually very busy.

“The people up in the mountains have nowhere to go.

“I have never seen it so quiet on a Saturday afternoon. The city is simply empty. The impact on businesses will be huge, but we are getting used to it.

“It’s amazing that the flood waters are still rising.”

Windsor residents were on alert as floodwaters were expected to peak later on Saturday, but the bridge was still open to traffic.

The Richmond and Yarramundi bridges remained closed due to flooding, but the Menangle and Cobbitty bridges have reopened.

NSW SES teams set up a resupply service in Wisemans Ferry on Saturday morning and knocked on doors in affected communities.

Once the floodwaters have receded, the NSW SES will conduct a damage assessment and warn the public that there may be damage to roads and infrastructure.

NSW SES Acting Commissioner Deb Platz said her priority was to get people back to normal as quickly as possible.

“Our priority is to get people back to normal as quickly as possible,” she said.

“It is important to check Live Traffic NSW and monitor conditions over the long weekend, particularly if you are driving on unfamiliar roads.”

The Acting Commissioner praised the actions of flood-affected residents across the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley.

“The people in these communities should be commended for making safe, informed and sensible decisions,” she said.

“The residents there were well prepared and heeded the warnings.”

She said the incident reminded her of how responsive the Hawkesbury Nepean catchment is and the need to be prepared for the next flood.

“It doesn’t necessarily have to rain a lot to cause river flooding and flash floods,” she said.

“As our catchments become saturated and dams become full, river levels can rise very quickly.”

New South Wales Emergency Management Minister Jihad Dib has warned people in the affected flood areas not to drive into the floodwaters.

“Please, again, do not drive through flood water,” he said.

“There have been over 234 incidents that (SES) has responded to in the last 24 hours and 13 of those were flood rescues.

“While I am incredibly grateful to the public for following SES advice and putting their safety first, I am nevertheless disappointed at the number of rescues we have to carry out because some people choose to drive through floodwater.

“You are putting yourself in danger, but you are also putting the volunteers and those you have to rescue in danger. I can’t say this strongly enough. Please do not drive through flood water.”

Before the rains, the Bureau of Meterology (BOM) issued flood warnings for the Nepean River and the Hawkesbury River.

Other areas under flood warnings include the Cooks River, the Georges and Woronora Rivers, the Shoalhaven River and the St. Georges Basin.

“Heavy flooding is possible along the Hawkesbury River at North Richmond and moderate flooding is occurring at Windsor. Minor flooding will peak along the Nepean River at Penrith and is possible along the Hawkesbury River at Sackville,” the BOM said.

However, the BOM does not forecast “any further significant rainfall” for the next few days.

While river levels are falling in some areas, they continue to rise in areas such as the Nepean River near Yarramundi, the Grose River near Burralow and the Hawkesbury River near Windsor.

This is a result of the Warragamba Dam overflowing into the Hawkesbury and Nepean Rivers.

Water NSW CEO Andrew George reported that the dam’s overflow volume is “declining” despite more than 100mm of rainfall.

“The Warragamba Dam peaked overnight. The discharge rate was about 240 gigalitres per day,” he said.

“The good news is that the leakage rate is declining and we expect a return to more normal releases.”

New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory

In addition to several light and moderate flood warnings for areas along the Hawkesbury and Nepean Rivers, BOM has issued a gale warning for the Batemans Coast.

There are also high wind warnings for the Hunter Coast, Sydney Coast, Illawarra Coast and Eden Coast.

Sydney is expected to experience partly cloudy weather with a slight chance of further showers and highs of 21 degrees on Saturday.

In Canberra it is expected to be partly cloudy with a low chance of rain and highs of 17 degrees.

South Australia

Frost warnings have been issued for the Mid North and Riverland districts, with temperatures potentially reaching minus one degree.

Partly cloudy weather with a slight chance of drizzle and highs of 16 degrees are forecast for the Adelaide area.

Victoria

Strong wind warnings have been issued for the east coast of Gippsland and are expected to continue until Sunday.

Melbourne is expected to have a cloudy day, with the possibility of fog in the morning and showers in the evening; the maximum temperature will be 15 degrees.

Tasmania/Northern Territory/Queensland

No weather warnings have been issued for these states.

It will be mostly sunny in the Hobart area, with a chance of cloud later in the day. Scattered fog is forecast in the morning, with a slight chance of rain later in the evening, high 13.

A sunny day for the capital of the Sunshine State, with light winds and highs of 22 degrees.

Smoke clouds have been forecast for Darwin City and the surrounding area. A sunny day with highs of 29 degrees is expected.

Western Australia

Strong wind warnings have been issued for the Gascoyne Coast, Geraldton Coast, Bunbury Geographe Coast and Leeuwin Coast.

Perth is forecast to have partly cloudy skies with a high chance of rain and maximum temperatures of 21 degrees.

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