A warning has been issued to residents in parts of New South Wales and Queensland after a number of dramatic rescues were made overnight as wild weather lashed the east coast.
State Emergency Services (SES) received more than 850 calls for help and performed 34 flood rescues across NSW overnight.
Major flood warnings were issued across NSW and QLD as the states were expected to receive over a month’s worth of rain in one day.
A woman and her puppy were rescued by NSW SES crews overnight after becoming trapped in flood waters at Muswellbrook (pictured)
Rescue crews were called to retrieve a woman and her puppy from a causeway in Muswellbrook in the NSW Upper Hunter Region at 11pm on Friday.
The woman had attempted to flee to safety after a deluge lashed the area, causing her home to become flooded.
SES Assistant Commissioner Dean Storey says it has been a hectic 24 hours throughout the state but particularly in the Upper Hunter.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) reported some areas of the state had been hit with more than 100mm of rain on Friday
‘That continues to be where our focus is today,’ he told ABC TV on Saturday morning.
‘Scone and Muswellbrook were affected by floodwaters over the last 24 hours and will continue to be to an extent today, with the focus shifting downstream.’
In the state’s Central West occupants of two vehicles driving on Nyrang Creek Bridge had a lucky escape after it gave way from flooding.
One car plunged into the floodwaters while the second vehicle was forced to jump the collapsing bridge.
The driver was taken to Orange Hospital and remains in a stable condition, while the passenger escaped with non-life-threatening injuries.
Flood warnings remain in place over the weekend for NSW inland rivers, and the Hunter, Hawkesbury Nepean Rivers.
‘This is quite a large statewide flood risk at the moment,’ Mr Storey said.
‘We are urging all communities and those flood prone areas to be aware of the risk and monitor the local conditions and follow the advice.’
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) reported some areas of the state had been hit with more than 100mm of rain on Friday.
By 9pm the downpour caused Sydney’s Warragamba Dam to reach capacity and it began to spill.
There could be ‘downstream impacts’ from release of excess water, said WaterNSW, the body responsible for the dam.
Across the border the deluge turned deadly when a Central Queensland man was killed after his ute was swept away in flood waters at Hibernia.
Sydney’s Warragamba Dam (pictured) to reach capacity and it began to spill by 9pm on Friday
Queensland police were forced to issue a stark warning to motorists driving into floodwaters amid series of risky rescue operations overnight.
In Darling Downs officers pulled two women and an infant from travelling in a vehicle to safety after floodwaters rose half a metre over Freestone Creek Bridge.
Nearby police used rope to form a human chain and enter waist high currents to rescue a woman from her flooding vehicle on Jack Smith Gully Road.
Darling Downs District Superintendent Danny Shaw warned driver’s not to be complacent about flood waters amid the heavy rainfall.
‘As we can see from these incidents overnight, flash flooding can occur very quickly and without any notice, even on roads that you usually travel on without any issues,’ Superintendent Shaw said.
State Emergency Services (SES) received more than 850 calls for help and performed 34 flood rescues across NSW overnight
‘This type of rain also causes significant structural damage to roads, so even if you think it looks safe, you can never be sure exactly what is underneath the water.
The hardest hit areas were in central Queensland and the Wide Bay regions, with the Kilmarnock Station near Clermont taking 182mm and Bundaberg 192mm.
This comes as a La Niña weather event was officially declared by the Bureau of Meteorology on Wednesday, predicting wild weather in the east, central and southern parts of the country.
Eastern parts of Queensland, NSW and possibly eastern Victoria will be most likely to experience increased rainfall during this period.
Sydney and Brisbane were expected to see between 50 and 100mm of rain in the coming three days with severe weather warnings in place across the states.
Eastern Victoria is likely to see between 25 and 50mm of rain with flood warnings in place for some regions.
Major flood warnings were issued across NSW and QLD as the states were expected to receive over a month’s worth of rain in one day
Andrew Watkins, head of operational climate services at the Bureau of Meteorology, said that while this La Niña was weaker than some previous ones, it could still cause serious flooding after Australia experienced its wettest spring since 2011.
‘Last year we saw a weak-to-moderate La Niña event, we’re backing it up with a weaker La Niña event, far weaker than what we saw in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012,’ Mr Watkins said.
‘It’s not uncommon to have back-to-back La Niña events.
‘The most comparable event is 2007-2009 when we saw heavy rains in November and December but then it backed off into the later summer months.’
‘It does increase the risk of floods but it reduces the risk of bushfires.
‘Our issue at the moment is we already have quite wet soils, quite wet rivers and quite high catchments, so any further rainfall raises the risk of widespread flooding.’