Rain, flash floods and thunderstorms sweep over Melbourne
Naaman Zhou, Guardian, Jan. 15, 2020
The rain is forecast to reach bushfire-hit parts of New South Wales and Victoria later this week
Heavy rain, flash floods and severe thunderstorms have swept over Melbourne and rain is forecast to hit bushfire-affected parts of New South Wales and Victoria later this week.
In just 30 minutes, 44mm of rain fell at Avalon on Wednesday afternoon, and wind gusts reached 110km/h as wild weather hit the state’s south and moved north.
Some suburbs across Victoria has received a month’s worth of rain as the state battles flooding, hail and wind.
At St Albans, 54mm fell in 30 minutes between 4.15pm and 4.45pm as the bureau of meteorology updated its forecast to include the possibility of giant hail.
Across the country, the bureau has forecast up to 10mm of rain could fall over active fire regions in NSW and Victoria on Wednesday, with more expected on Thursday and Friday.
Up to 50mm of rain could fall across the NSW south coast from Wednesday to Saturday, and up to 25mm in the Snowy Valley and northern Victoria, where cross-border fires continue to burn through hundreds of thousands of hectares.
Earlier in the week, the NSW Rural Fire Service described the bureau’s rainfall projections as “all of our Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation presents rolled into one.”
Australia’s horror bushfire season has so far burnt through more than 10m hectares of land, killed 28 people, and destroyed thousands of homes nationwide.
On Wednesday, the bureau issued severe thunderstorm warnings for the Riverina and lower and upper western regions of NSW, and for Melbourne and Geelong,, Northern Country, and West, South and parts of East Gippsland in Victoria.
As of 4pm, multiple incidents of flash flooding had already been reported at Flemington, Pascoe Vale, Ringwood, Sunshine West and Altona North in Melbourne, and Lara and Portarlington near Geelong, according to VicEmergency.
Lightning strikes also started at least two fires in the Great Otway National Park as the storm swept northeast.
On Tuesday, the bureau of meteorology warned that the sudden heavy rain had the potential to cause damage – especially in fire-hit and burnt-out areas.
Bureau meteorologist Sarah Scully said the rain was “a bit of a double-edged sword”.
“Heavy rainfall and gusty thunderstorms bring the potential for flash flooding, particularly in the burnt-out areas of NSW and Victoria which are now vulnerable to landslips and trees coming down,” she said.
Maarten IJzerman (@maartenijzerman)
In Victoria’s East Gippsland, where the more than 160,000 hectare Border Fire continues to burn, up to 10mm of rain is expected on Thursday.