There will be relief for millions of Australians from Wednesday as forecasters reveal heavy rainfall is not predicted for a week – but many have been warned flood risks are unlikely to abate.
Floods not seen since the 1961 disaster have devoured hundreds of homes and forced thousands to evacuate between Sydney and Byron Bay after five days of torrential rain.
Rains will finally ease on Wednesday and Thursday in Sydney, offering a short respite for millions and the chance to hit the beach with temperatures soaring to 30C with clear skies and sunshine.
But the pain for those in the city’s west and along the Hawkesbury River is far from over, with major flooding occurring early on Wednesday morning northwest of Sydney at North Richmond, Windsor and on the Colo River.
‘We do wake up to sunshine today in most parts of New South Wales which is a positive thing,’ Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
This image of a submerged home was shared by the NSW SES Ryde Unit who spent Tuesday evacuating residents at the Colo and Hawkesbury Rivers
Rains will finally ease on Wednesday and Thursday in Greater Sydney, offering a short respite for millions and the chance to hit the beach with temperatures soaring to 30C with clear skies and sunshine. Pictured: A couple hit Bondi Beach
People are seen on a jet-sky in a street affected by the flood in Windsor, western Sydney, on Tuesday
The Australian national flag pokes out of the swollen Hawkesbury River as the state of New South Wales experiences severe flooding
The premier said the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting no further major rainfall for at least the next week, which she described as ‘very positive’.
‘But what we still have to be aware of is the fact that thousands and thousands of people are still on evacuation warnings, that the rivers will continue to swell, that catchments will continue to experience flows of water not seen in 50 years and in some places 100 years,’ she said.
‘And that is what is our primary concern. But the easing of weather conditions does mean that rescue operations will be somewhat easier.’
There was also major flooding on the Nepean River which peaked at 12.85m in Menangle, southwest of Sydney, about 10pm on Tuesday.
The State Emergency Service said the Nepean River at Penrith was likely to peak near 7.70m about 7am on Wednesday, with minor flooding.
Ms Berejiklian said an additional 6,000 people were evacuated over the past 24 hours.
Two horses are seen in standing floodwater on the New South Wales coast as an SES crew member attempts to help
A couple walk along Bondi Beach. Sydneysiders are expected to enjoy the sunshine on Wednesday after relentless rain
A man on a kayak makes the most of a bad situation by knocking back a beer as he paddles through floodwaters in Windsor
While rain will finally stop on Wednesday, the NSW State Emergency Service said the danger of flood could remain for weeks or months to come in many areas, stranding thousands out of their homes.
The disaster recovery body said the near-record floods were as bad as they were – and will take so long to recede – not only because of the immense rain but of how wet 2020 was.
‘Because NSW had so much rain consistently for months, the soil is saturated which means it cannot take any more water in and that is why we have such a big flood event,’ the SES told Daily Mail Australia.
It said flooding of sewerage pumping stations in the area had resulted in raw sewerage being discharged into floodwaters.
About 18,000 NSW residents were told to move from their homes since last week, with warnings the flood clean-up could stretch beyond Easter.
Ms Berejiklian on Tuesday said there were several weather fronts, ‘catastrophic’ in their dimensions, impacting large swathes of the state.
‘This is a weather incident beyond anything we could have comprehended,’ Ms Berejiklian said in parliament.
The premier has asked her deputy, John Barilaro, to lead the state’s recovery, as he did after the Black Summer bushfires.
More than 10,000 requests for help have been made around NSW since Thursday, with emergency services performing about 900 flood rescues
A car is seen stuck in floodwaters after heavy rain lashed the New South Wales coast
Rain will finally stop today, but the NSW State Emergency Service said the danger of flood could remain for weeks or months to come in many areas, stranding thousands out of their homes
Alicia Pitt and son Travis are evacuated by a rescue boat after getting trapped by floodwaters on the Hawkesbury River on Tuesday
People northwest of Sydney have been ordered to evacuate homes amid the downpour as a surge of water flows into catchments, causing rivers to rise.
Major flooding is occurring along the Colo River. The SES ordered about 500 people in 200 homes to get out on Tuesday with boats and helicopters deployed to help them leave.
A family fleeing flooding on the river needed to be rescued twice after the boat evacuating them capsized on Tuesday afternoon.
Three SES crews were also on board when the boat overturned as it approached the Sackville Ferry Wharf.
People in caravans along a stretch of the Hawkesbury River from Windsor to Wiseman’s Ferry have been told to prepare to leave, as have those in the Picton CBD due to rising levels at Stonequarry Creek.
More than 10,000 requests for help have been made around NSW since Thursday, with emergency services performing about 900 flood rescues.
A man is standing on a paddle board in Richmond Sydney. Evacuation warnings are in place for parts of Western Sydney as floodwaters continue to rise
Bridges, homes, and entire towns are underwater and huge rivers burst their banks to flood great swathes of NSW because so much rain fell in the past year – and the danger will stay for months
Floods not seen since the 1961 disaster have devoured hundreds of homes and forced thousands to evacuate between Sydney and Byron Bay after five days of torrential rain
An inland weather system coming across from the Northern Territory is also blighting rural communities such as Grafton and Lismore.
Evacuation warnings persist at Kempsey on the state’s mid north coast, while the Hunter, the Central Tablelands and the south coast are in for a drenching.
A major flood warning is in place for the Orara River at Glenreagh and Coutts Crossing.
Warnings of moderate flooding along the Nepean River at Penrith are in place and floodwaters are expected to affect the upper Nepean.
Rain started to ease in coastal areas on Tuesday evening, but the BOM says conditions will remain severe for inland NSW.
Sunnier skies in coastal NSW will not end flood risks, with rain catchments continuing to flow into bursting rivers.
It will also likely continue to rain on the state’s south coast.
‘It is very important to remember that even though we’ll have blue sky and sunshine returning, flooding will continue and the flood risk will continue,’ bureau meteorologist Agata Imielska told reporters on Tuesday.
A family and dog rescued by a State Emergency Service crew make it to safety after being trapped by rising floodwaters, as the state of NSW experiences widespread flooding and severe weather, in the suburb of Sackville North in Sydney
Ms Berejiklian also warned the rivers would keep rising after the rain stopped.
‘If you have been asked to be on alert for evacuation, please get together your precious belongings, make sure you are safe and make sure you’re ready to leave at very short notice,’ Ms Berejiklian told reporters.
About 280 NSW schools were closed on Tuesday due to the rainfall, with a similar number expected to be shut on Wednesday.
‘The soil cannot take any more water so the water needs to travel somewhere. In the case of the Hawkesbury-Nepean, it will travel out to sea,’ the SES said.
‘Which is why we are now starting to see evacuation warnings now for places like Wiseman’s Ferry – because the water is starting to travel down that catchment.
‘Water travels in wonderfully mysterious ways. It builds then travels through a river system it does not only flood in the area where the rain fell.’
‘For this floodwater to completely subside, even if does not rain, it would take weeks in some areas and months in others.’
Members of the State Emergency Service transport medical supplies and relief goods to flood-affected residents during rescue operations in Windsor in northwestern Sydney
Kids on canoes in front of home affected by the flood in Windsor Sydney. Evacuation warnings are in place for parts of Western Sydney as floodwaters continue to rise
Eight months worth of rain fell on some parts of NSW in just the past seven days with some towns getting a full metre of water and some batters by four times their monthly average in just a day.
After so much rain the burst the banks of rivers from Parramatta in Sydney to the Hastings River near Port Macquarie on the mid-north coast that immense flooding will continue for days or weeks.
Ms Imielska said many low-lying inland areas were still under serious threat with rain falling on already flooded areas.
‘With that those dangerous conditions… that flood risk is very much with us and it is very important for the communities to stay across the current flood and severe weather warnings,’ she said.
‘We’re not out of the woods yet.’
Members of the State Emergency Service prepare medical supplies and relief goods to take to flood-affected residents during rescue operations in Windsor in northwestern Sydney
People are evacuated by a rescue boat after getting trapped by floodwaters on the Hawkesbury River
Comboyne (1,034mm) and Mount Seaview (1,083mm), both on the mid-north coast, were among the areas to get more than a metre of rain.
The Hunter River is expected to reach 11.5m on Wednesday prompting evacuation orders for low-lying areas downstream of Singleton.
The south coast of NSW is now under threat as well, with the weather system that drenched Sydney and the north of the state moving south.
‘When that low pressure system comes through later today, we will see heavy rainfall and flood risk on the south coast as well,’ Ms Imielska said.
A family of four, including two young children were plucked from raging floodwaters in the Hawkesbury on Tuesday after the SES rescue boat capsized
A young girl from North Richmond is transported across the floodwater by SES to visit her sister in hospital with her family in the suburb of Richmond
Farther north, more heavy rain and flooding is expected to create further chaos and mass evacuations in Southeast Queensland, as an emerging risk develops for eastern Victoria and eastern Tasmania.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said properties in Beaudesert were under threat as the Logan River was bursting after heavy rain.
‘Residents in the area have been asked to secure their belongings, warn their neighbours and move to higher ground,’ it said.
The Bureau of Meteorology warns the extreme weather battering all mainland states and territories bar Western Australia is far from over.
‘After days of heavy rain we’re finally seeing it start to ease,’ the bureau tweeted on Tuesday night.
‘While it’s some good news for hard-hit communities, it’s not the end of the story. Many areas are still facing significant flood risk, and in some communities waters are yet to peak.’
People are seen in a street affected by the flood in Windsor Sydney. Evacuation warnings are in place for parts of Western Sydney as floodwaters continue to rise
Ahouse is surrounded by flood waters in Londonderry on the outskirts of Sydney. Hundreds of people have been rescued from floodwaters that have isolated dozens of towns
A farmer paddles his kayak through a field near Kempsey on the NSW mid north coast on Tuesday
Sydney’s north-west isn’t out of the woods just yet with major flood warning still in place. Pictured is Windsor inundated with water on Tuesday
A Swift Water Rescue team from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services rescued two men from their car in floodwaters at Beaudesert near Brisbane on Tuesday
FIVE DAY WEATHER FORECAST
WEDNESDAY: Min 18. Max 30. Sunny.
THURSDAY: Min 18. Max 28 Mostly sunny.
FRIDAY: Min 17. Max 25. Shower or two.
SATURDAY: Min 17. Max 27. Partly cloudy.
SUNDAY: Min 17. Max 25. Partly cloudy.
WEDNESDAY: Min 23. Max 32. Possible morning storm.
THURSDAY: Min 20. Max 31. Sunny.
FRIDAY: Min 19. Max 29. Sunny.
SATURDAY: Min 20. Max 29. Mostly sunny.
SUNDAY: Min 19. Max 30. Sunny.
WEDNESDAY: Min 15. Max 23. Shower or two.
THURSDAY: Min 14. Max 21. Partly cloudy.
FRIDAY: Min 13. Max 24. Partly cloudy.
SATURDAY: Min 15. Max 22. Possible shower.
SUNDAY: Min 13. Max 22. Partly cloudy.
WEDNESDAY: Min 13. Max 21. Shower or two.
THURSDAY: Min 12. Max 22. Partly cloudy.
FRIDAY: Min 7. Max 21. Mostly sunny.
SATURDAY: Min 9. Max 21. Possible shower.
SUNDAY: Min 7. Max 21. Partly cloudy.
WEDNESDAY: Min 16. Max 19. Showers.
THURSDAY: Min 15. Max 20. Shower or two.
FRIDAY: Min 12. Max 23. Partly cloudy.
SATURDAY: Min 15. Max 19. Shower or two.
SUNDAY: Min 12. Max 18. Possible shower.
WEDNESDAY: Min 13. Max 26. Sunny.
THURSDAY: Min 14. Max 25. Sunny.
FRIDAY: Min 15. Max 26. Sunny.
SATURDAY: Min 14. Max 30. Sunny.
SUNDAY: Min 18. Max 32. Sunny.
WEDNESDAY: Min 16. Max 19. Rain. Possible heavy falls.
THURSDAY: Min 15. Max 20. Morning rain.
FRIDAY: Min 11. Max 21. Partly cloudy.
SATURDAY: Min 12. Max 18. Shower or two.
SUNDAY: Min 10. Max 19. Partly cloudy.
WEDNESDAY: Min 25. Max 32. Shower or two. Possible storm.
THURSDAY: Min 25. Max 31. Shower or two. Storm likely
FRIDAY: Min 25. Max 31. Shower or two. Storm likely.
SATURDAY: Min 25. Max 32. Shower or two. Possible storm.
SUNDAY: Min 25. Max 33. Shower or two. Possible storm.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology