Evacuations in north NSW, rain hits Sydney

A “potentially life-threatening” downpour that has flooded rivers and triggered evacuations along the NSW coast has made its way to Sydney.

Rain has plagued the city for most of the week, but the deluge arriving on Saturday will be on another level, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

“We might see quite significant flash flooding and we’ve got a flood watch current for both the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers,” bureau flood operations manager Justin Robinson said.


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“We’re likely to see a spill from Warragamba Dam and that will then impact those communities downstream.”

BoM issued a severe weather warning on Saturday morning covering an area from the mid-north coast to the far south coast of NSW as well as Canberra.

The bureau warned of intense rainfall “potentially leading to life-threatening flash flooding” and damaging winds averaging 60-70km/h with gusts exceeding 90km/h.

It said strong winds may generate damaging surf, with significant wave heights of 5 metres in the surf zone bringing potential for coastal erosion.

While the rain will be “substantially heavier” than what Sydney copped earlier this week, it will not be of the same intensity that hit the mid-north coast on Thursday and Friday.

SES crews undertook at least 57 flood rescues and responded to more than 1300 calls for help, as a dozen rivers along the NSW coast flooded.

“We’re seeing rainfall totals of over 100mm falling in about an hour,” meteorologist Agata Imielska told reporters on Friday.

“That is very dangerous rainfall.”

The Hastings River was expected to exceed record levels overnight, and the Kempsey CBD was forecast to flood.

Major flooding also hit Macksville and Bowraville, which the SES expects will be isolated overnight.

Those living in low-lying areas of Port Macquarie were forced to evacuate, with a “significant” number of properties set to be inundated.

Nearby areas of North Haven, Dunbogan, Camden Head, Laurieton were also ordered to leave, as well as those living in Kempsey and along the lower Macleay River.

While the worst of the system has passed, emergency services have warned road and surf conditions will remain dangerous and are telling motorists and boaties to stay home.

The deluge is set to continue well into next week and could deliver the heaviest rainfall since February 2020, when Greater Sydney was hit.

© AAP 2021