About 1226.8mm of rain has fallen on Sydney already this year, beating its annual average.
Updated by Faith Barbara Namagembe at 1059 EAT on Thursday 7 April 2022.
Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate because of floods in and around Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, after more than a month’s worth of rain fell overnight.
The downpour – with forecasters warning of more rain – turned streets into rivers and filled reservoirs to the brim.
Residents of a nursing home were evacuated as emergency crews urged the harbour city’s 5 million people to avoid unnecessary travel.
“This is a highly dynamic situation. These events are moving exceptionally quickly,” New South Wales emergency services Acting Commissioner Daniel Austin told a media briefing. “Exceptionally sharp, short bursts of rain” have been creating flash flooding almost every hour, he said.
Some 1,226.8 mm (48 inches) of rain has fallen on Sydney since the start of the year, the highest year-to-date figure since records began in 1859. It is also 200mm higher than the last record set in 1956.
Authorities warned that three major rivers could burst their banks and ordered residents living in parts of the southwestern suburb of Chipping Norton to evacuate, as well as people further south in the town of Camden.
The Sydney Morning Herald, however, noted that while some areas had been inundated, the rainfall was far from uniform with areas northwest of the city seeing barely any rain.
A severe weather warning is in place along a more than 600km (373-mile) stretch of New South Wales’ southern coast, although the weather bureau expects conditions to ease from Thursday evening.
The east coast has been inundated with rain since the start of the year. The La Nina weather phenomenon is partly to blame, but climate change is also believed to be a contributing factor.
Many rivers were already at capacity even before the latest downpour with the Warragamba Dam, which provides most of Sydney’s water, expected to spill over on Friday, authorities said.
Three intense weather systems have pounded eastern Australia in six weeks.
Several towns across northern New South Wales are still trying to clean up after two separate devastating floods last month.