Rising rain hits NSW east coast as authorities warn of flooding and landslides | Australia weather

New South Wales residents are warned that the current spell of wet weather hitting the east coast is set to get worse, with more rain, strong winds and billowing seas on the way.

Two Australian Defense Force helicopters have been made available to assist in rescue operations as areas of the state prepare for heavy rainfall and possible flooding.

Three flood rescues have been launched since Friday, warning people along parts of the Hawkesbury River that they are at high risk of flooding.

NSW Secretary of State Steph Cooke said flash flooding could occur anywhere from Newcastle to Jervis Bay.

“We are all nervously waiting to see what happens,” she said on Saturday, adding that she was confident emergency services were prepared for what was to come.

Jane Golding of the Bureau of Meteorology said the weather would deteriorate overnight, with a risk of flash flooding and landslides.

“The rainfall will increase,” she said. “We will also see the wind increase. We will see the seas stir and we will see the rivers react to the rain that falls.”

The federal government approved ADF support Friday night at NSW’s request, with 100 troops available as of Sunday, federal emergency management secretary Murray Watt said.

There is a risk of severe flooding around Sydney and the Illawarra, as well as the Hawkesbury and Nepean regions from Sunday to next week.

“I want to assure people that the federal government is… 100% prepared for what may lie ahead,” Watt said from Brisbane on Saturday.

“One of the things we’ve learned over the years is that if we don’t have a federal government that takes responsibility and isn’t proactive, bad things can happen.”

WaterNSW prepared for the Warragamba Dam spill after days of persistent rain pushed water levels to their limits.

Greater Sydney’s total dam storage was 96.3% on Friday night and Warragamba – with a storage capacity of 2,065GL – 97%.

WaterNSW said that if rain continued to fall as forecast, Warragamba “could experience a significant spill early next week” with the highest risk on Sunday and Monday.

Since November last year, controlled discharges have been strategically used to lower the water level in the dam. So far, it had released a total of 830GL, or 40%.

WaterNSW had set up a dedicated incident team to manage the event and worked closely with the Bureau of Meteorology, Sydney Water and New South Wales Health.

If a spill does occur, it could lead to the third major flood of 2022.

More than 200mm of rain fell south of Wollongong overnight, and there were warnings for six hour totals of between 80 and 150mm in Sydney and the Illawarra.

The weather system hits the state on the first weekend of the school holidays and drivers are urged to exercise extreme caution.

“We know that flood waters are extremely dangerous, especially for motorists. If the road is flooded, turn around and find another way,” said Roger Weeks of Transport for NSW.

We have closed the Botanical Garden today as some areas have been flooded, and we need to make some essential repairs and clean up. If you need help during a flood or storm, call the SES on 132 500 and if someone’s life is in danger, call 000.

— Wollongong City (@Wollongong_City) July 2, 2022

Routes in and out of Sydney were likely to be congested, with heavy traffic expected at known bottlenecks, particularly around the airport.

Dangerous surf and swell conditions were also expected.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the system could develop on Sunday or Monday, extending continued rain into next week.

Flooding was possible from Saturday for the Hunter, Central Coast, Greater Sydney and the South Coast, with flood guards for watersheds between Newcastle and Batemans Bay, including Sydney and the Illawarra.

Areas at risk included the rivers Newcastle, Central Coast, Lake Macquarie, Upper Coxs, Colo, Macdonald, Woronora, Patterson, Williams and Lower Hunter.

The Upper and Lower Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers were also at risk.