Publication Date February 9, 2020

NSW weather: residents evacuated from flooded areas and thousands left without power

extreme rainfall caused flooding in Sydney

Signals Summary: Climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme rainfall events, like Australia saw this past weekend, and heavy rains increase the risk of flooding

Article Excerpt: Devastating storms have swept through eastern New South Wales, forcing flood evacuations and leaving tens of thousands without electricity.

Utility companies were on Sunday rushing to turn the lights back on for the more than 100,000 customers left without power.

Residents in low-lying areas near the Narrabeen Lagoon in northern Sydney were on Sunday night ordered to evacuate by the NSW State Emergency Service.


A severe weather warning was issued on Sunday for the entire coast of NSW, and would remain in place on Monday.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the deluge could cause “life-threatening flash flooding” in the Hunter region, the Central Coast, greater Sydney, Illawarra and the Blue Mountains.

Sydney, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains were soaked by between 200 and 400mm of rain from 9am Friday to 5pm Sunday.

The last time Sydney and the state’s coast had similar rainfall was mid-2016.

“But we’ve surpassed those figures and you have to go back as far back as 1998 to see totals like we’ll get,” a weather bureau spokeswoman said.

“It is uncommon to see rainfall rates as high as we have seen, up in the hundreds of millimetres occurring over consecutive days.”


A king tide in Sydney also caused inundation in low-lying areas and there were risks of coastal erosion, Golding said. That was expected to hit Collaroy and other areas that were eroded by the 2016 storm surge. The Sydney Harbour buoy was recording waves of 5m, surging to 8m, and the seas were so rough that the buoy off Collaroy beach pulled free from its moorings.

The heaviest rain was recorded in the northern rivers region, where Kingscliff received 300mm in 24 hours. That rain was moving south down the coast, Golding said. Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains had received 200mm in the previous 24-hours, and parts of the mid-north coast received 250mm.

The town of Narrabri, 521km north-west of Sydney, went from “drought to flooding in a day”, the local SES said. Heavy rains made lakes of paddocks and flooded the train station.