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Torrential rains hit Australia’s east coast on Thursday, with Sydney receiving nearly a month of rain overnight, turning suburban roads into rivers and triggering evacuations as authorities warn of more rain in the day .
A man swept away by floodwaters in the northwest of the city was rescued by emergency teams, media reported, while TV footage showed vehicles struggling to cross flooded streets, power lines and fallen trees and debris floating in the rivers.
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Residents of a care home were evacuated overnight as emergency crews urged the port city’s 5 million residents to avoid unnecessary travel and prepare for possible evacuations.
“This is a very dynamic situation. These events are moving exceptionally quickly,” NSW Acting Emergency Services Commissioner Daniel Austin told a press briefing. “Unusually strong and short bursts of rain” created flash floods nearly every hour, he said.
Sydney has received 1,227mm (48 inches) of rain so far this year, more than its average annual rainfall of 1,213mm. Over the next 24 hours, many coastal cities could reach 180 mm (7 inches), the Bureau of Meteorology said.
The tourist hotspot of Bondi recorded around 170mm in the 24-hour period up to 09:00 Thursday (2300 GMT, Wednesday), according to official data.
Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate their homes as businesses clean up essentials to help mitigate their losses.
“All hands are on deck trying to salvage furniture…so we’ve been pretty busy lifting things…moving things, unplugging filters and electricity, and things like that,” Nicola Gilfillan , owner of a cafe in south-west Sydney, told ABC television.
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An overflow from a fuel pit at a site owned by oil refiner Ampol in Sydney’s south caused oil to mix with floodwaters, but emergency crews said the spill had been contained and that there was no risk of danger in the area.
A severe weather warning stretched along the NSW south coast for more than 600 km (373 miles), but conditions were expected to ease from Thursday evening, the report said. meteorological office.
Australia’s east coast summer was dominated by the La Nina weather phenomenon, usually associated with increased rainfall, for the second consecutive year, with most rivers at capacity even before the latest flood. The Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s main water supply, is expected to overflow on Friday, authorities said.
Three intense weather systems in six weeks have hit eastern Australia, with parts of northern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland recording record rains and Sydney recording its wettest March ever checked in.
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Climate change is also widely seen as a contributing factor to the inclement weather, which has raised questions about Australia’s preparedness.
Several towns in northern New South Wales are still struggling to clear tons of debris after two separate devastating floods in March, but the latest weather event shattered the state’s central and southern coast.