Full coverage of evacuations, warnings, river levels and weather forecasts. All times are in AEDT.
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- Cotter spills as deluge hits region
- Bureau of Meteorology weather warnings
Ginninderra Falls during this week's rain. Video: Tim the Yowie Man and Phill Sledge. Copyright: Tim the Yowie Man
12.53am: The weather bureau is continuing to predict a 95 per cent chance of rain today, heavy in some areas. As updates come to hand, we'll bring them to you.
7.50pm: You've all been sending in more photos than we've been able to handle today, at least as quickly as we would have liked. So instead of posting them all as they come in, we've updated our readers' gallery with some of the best ones. Ian Craig sent in this once showing the Naas bridge, which isn't looking the best. Click on the image to see the rest of the gallery.
7.20pm: Fans of dam cam - and we know there are a lot of you out there - might be disappointed to know that it has slowed down. The view of the dam wall, and all the water gushing over it, is now updated every 180 seconds, rather than the 40 seconds we all go to enjoy last night and this morning. It is, though, still showing some pretty impressive images.
6.20pm: Talking of the forecast, the Bureau predicts a 95 per cent chance of rain tomorrow, forecasting:
"Cloudy. Rain developing in the morning, possibly becoming heavy in the afternoon. Winds east to southeasterly averaging up to 25km/h tending east to northeasterly up to 20km/h later in the evening."
The rain is expected to ease on Sunday, with most of next week forecast to be "partly cloudy" before we get a "mostly sunny" on Friday - just in time for the next weekend.
6.15pm: It seems the VC at ANU didn't find that video of people "white water rafting" on Sullivans Creek too amusing. Ian Young sent a terse email to students, reminding them that such hijinks were frowned upon and that the police had been called (although everyone had run - or floated - away before they arrived).
"This is a highly irresponsible activity in the circumstances. Swimming and playing in and around swollen creeks and rivers is very dangerous. People must heed the warnings issued by the Emergency Services Agency, as well as ANU security," he said.
"Sullivans Creek is, at the moment, full of muddy storm water with strong currents. It also has many hidden hazards, such as fallen tree branches and rocks, as well as floating debris. The people involved in yesterday’s actions are extremely lucky they did not cause themselves, or others coming to their aid, serious injury or worse."
ANU Security will be watching the creek again over the weekend, given more rain - and potential flooding - is on the cards.
6.10pm: More good news. The ESA reports that the Kings Highway is fully re-open, although "motorists are advised to drive carefully". There are, though, several roads that are still closed. The ESA has a map showing the latest closures on its website.
Morisset Road in Mitchell (access to Bimberi Youth Justice Centre is via Wells Station Road)
Cotter Road is closed at Casuarina Sands.
Tidbinbilla Road is closed at the intersection of Booroomba Road through to Paddys River Road.
Corin Road at the intersection with Paddy’s River Road
Paddy’s River Road (local residents will still have access)
Naas Road closed one kilometre south of Tharwa (this includes the Naas Road bridge over the Gudgenby River which has been damaged)
Smiths Road Bridge
Bendora Dam Road
Orroral Valley Road
Brindabella Road at the start of the dirt section to the NSW border
Mount Franklin Road
Swamp Creek Crossing
Point Hut Crossing
Oaks Estate Crossing
Molonglo Gorge Road
All mountain roads in Namadgi National Park.
Motorists travelling in rural areas are strongly urged to respect road closures. The closed roads have isolated landslips and debris on them.
4.10pm: To give a bit of perspective, Tim has also sent us some before and after photos. Can you guess which one was taken this week, and which shows the normal flow at the falls?
"It is incredible that Ginninderra Falls is a 30 minute drive from Parliament House – there tonight on dusk to take the flood photo and video grabs, I felt like I was in Kakadu, not West Belco," Tim says.
2.40pm: We've seen lots of amazing photos over the past few days of floods and strongly flowing rivers, but few have been able to see one of the more impressive sights because it is off limit to the public. But Tim the Yowie Man grabbed his video camera as well as his trusty hat when he went out to Ginninderra Falls and what he found was quite spectacular, as the video above shows. He also provided that photo of the falls on the homepage. For more on Ginninderra Falls check his weekly column in the Panorama lift out in tomorrow's paper.
12.55pm: While 600 Goulburn residents remained evacuated overnight and this morning, others were busy stocking up on essentials, including umbrellas. The Goulburn Post is reporting that sales have gone "through the roof" at the local Kmart:
"As Goulburn struggles to keep dry the demand for umbrellas has exploded in the wake of an onslaught of rain.
"You’d also be struggling to find batteries, tarps, first aid kits, ponchos, gumboots and flashlights on the shelves this weekend with record sales noted across the board.
"It seems that Goulburn residents are stocking up and preparing themselves should weather worsen.
"One in three people walking through Kmart’s doors have run straight to the umbrella stand, grabbing two or three at a time, general merchandise manager Robert Gray said."
The city remains on alert, with dam and river levels under close watch.
12.30pm: Meanwhile, Sydneysiders might be wishing for a DamCam of their own. The Sydney Catchment Authority is expecting the city's primary water source to begin spilling over the Warragamba Dam wall sometime today or tomorrow, Glenda Kwek reports:
"The dam is at 98 per cent capacity and has about 178,000 litres of water entering it each day, the Sydney Catchment Authority said in its 11am report today.
"'It's 0.8 of a metre below being full,' Ian Tanner from the catchment authority told Macquarie Radio this morning."
11.45am: "Fantastic news" from Sean Carson at BOM this morning -
"Today, we're only seeing light showers and drizzle, which is fantastic news."
But in less fantastic news, Sean is forecasting some heavy dumps over the weekend. The reason? A "conveyer belt of moisture" bringing rain down from the tropics, through central Australia, to NSW, the ACT and Victoria.
This grab from the national rain radar really demonstrates the phenomenon. Notice the light gray band of moisture stretching from the north west down to the south east:
"On a broad scale, its just sitting in the same spot," Sean says of the band of moisture. "It's becoming a little bit unprecedented."
The rain clouds over the centre of the country in the image above are the same ones that will be hitting the region from tomorrow.
Sean says we can expect constant rain from Saturday morning until Sunday lunch.
For Canberra, the "best" case scenario would be if the mass of moisture misses us to the west on its path over the country, leaving us with a fairly wet weekend with about 30mm of rain.
This would mean two things - more rain for the regions to the west of Canberra, and the possibility of further minor to moderate problems around Canberra.
"We're kind of hitting our thresholds now, where everything is saturated," Sean says. "We’re definitely going to get 30mm easily, which is going to create some issues anyway."
If, however, the rain comes straight over, Canberra and the region could be looking at falls of 50-100mm or more. We won't really know for sure until it arrives.
Needless to say, all eyes are on the weather.
11.05am: ESA has issued their latest update on outstanding calls and the forecast tomorrow:
"ACT State Emergency Service Chief Officer Tony Graham expects all outstanding jobs to be completed by tonight ahead more rain tomorrow.
"There are still just over 100 calls for help remaining.
"The BOM is forecasting up to 30mm of rain again from tomorrow to lunchtime on Sunday."
We'll be catching up with the weather bureau shortly for a full update on weekend weather.
10.15am: Here's a video that will make authorities frown, the SES wince, and cause a few parents to shake their heads. Sullivan's Creek at the ANU. We'll say no more:
9.55am: The Princes Highway is cut in both directions at Bega after the Bega River hit a peak of 6.6m last night, the Bega District News is reporting this morning. The river levels are currently falling, but more rain is forecast over the next 24 hours.
The townships of Towamba (population 367) and Rocky Hall (population 100), in the Bega Valley, remain isolated.
9.35am: A quick update on the work of our SES volunteers. There haven't been any more calls for help since the last update - although at 531, that's already a high enough number - but they still have 113 jobs outstanding. Once again, a big thanks goes out to all those who have been working through the past two days to help those affected by the downpour.
And it seems the good folk at the ESA are already avid readers of the renewed Gang-gang column with Ian Warden, who was looking for Canberra's most spectacular potholes.
The response was enormous. And as well as all the concerns for safety in the reports there was sometimes between the lines some genuine excitement of the kind one gets from birdwatching ''twitchers'' reporting glimpses of the rare Double-eyed Fig-parrot.
'Pandabrown'' pleaded: ''Spare a thought for those of us who travel from Bungendore to Canberra every day. Kings Highway roadworks in two places about 6 kilometres apart … Then came the rain! Resulting in potholes big enough to hide a wombat in. It's like having a deep tissue massage just getting over the potholes … Drivers are frustrated, but please be nice to the lollipop guys! They are doing a great job.''
The ESA, too, is asking people to report pot holes - to Canberra Connect on 13 22 81 or via the ACT government's Fix My Street website.
9.25am: We didn't hear too much about Bungendore yesterday, but as reader Kellie Callender shows us, parts of it, too, went under. However, she informs us the roads are looking a lot better out that way today.
"I went and checked this morning, it has gone down, the dip into Elmsea is still closed due to high waters but the main bridge is open again. With the predicted heavy rains for tomorrow we expect the waters to rise again," she tells us.
And given her photo taken yesterday, basketball is probably off the agenda for the next few days.
9.12am: We've seen lots of shots of the water spilling over the front of the new Cotter Dam wall now - thanks Damcam! - but Actew's Mark Sullivan gives us a look at the other side. The benefits of running a company...
8.10am: A group of high school students has been left stranded on Mount Buffalo in Victoria overnight after a landslide closed the main access road yesterday, the Border-Mail is reporting:
"The students were among visitors forced to spend last night on the mountain after 300mm of rain this week triggered a landslide early yesterday.
"The Mount Buffalo Road was closed about midday, with four large boulders and debris covering the road halfway up the mountain.
"VicRoads was still waiting for machinery from Tallangatta late in the afternoon to start work on clearing the road.
"A blast crew was sent from Myrtleford to the scene to assess whether explosives would be needed."
7.55am: An interesting behind-the-scenes look at information management during the extreme weather by reporter Peter Jean:
"Monitoring social media such as Twitter so that false rumours can be nipped in the bud are among the duties of a public information centre which has been activated as part of the ACT government's response to the risk of flooding.
"The Public Information and Coordination Centre opened at Emergency Services headquarters at 5am yesterday and is being staffed by communications staff from across the government.
"The centre, which is being run by Jeremy Lasek, of the Chief Minister's Directorate, is responsible for collating information and making sure it gets to the public via the media and other sources."
7.48am: The good news from Cotter is a great excuse for another amazing picture of the overflow last night.
This one is from reader Leanne Hackett:
7.42am: Actew managing director Mark Sullivan has taken to Twitter again this morning with the latest update on the Cotter Dam site. Looks like the new dam wall has survived the spill:
Our first reports are the dam remained structurally sound. Heavy machinery fine. A lot of minor damage. Biggest worry earthworks down river— Mark Sullivan, ACTEW (@Sullivan_ACTEW) March 1, 2012
7.40am: A reminder that Lake Burley Griffin is closed to all used, and will remain closed for at least seven days due to sewage discharge:
"Partially and untreated effluent has also been discharged into the Molonglo River from Canberra's Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre. ActewAGL has advised people not to draw water from the Murrumbidgee River downstream of the Cotter River and above Burrinjuck Reservoir for at least 72 hours.
"Chief executive of the National Capital Authority Gary Rake said yesterday Lake Burley Griffin would remain closed to all use until two consecutive tests had shown the water to be safe."
7.25am: A man was rescued from Queanbeyan River last night, after jumping from Queen's Bridge on Monaro Street.
Two police waded in to the swollen river to rescue the 43-year-old man, but one officer was swept downstream and another became entangled in a submerged fence. Both were rescued from the river.
The man was eventually retrieved from the water by an SES flood rescue boat about 500m downstream.
The event highlights the dangers of fast-moving, swollen waterways. Police and emergency services are urging people to stay away from all floodwaters.
7.07am: A great piece from reporter Jacqueline Williams pays tribute to the work of meteorologist Sean Carson and his team at the Canberra Bureau of Meteorology. Plus, there is a great picture of the often heard but rarely seen Sean:
"Mr Carson, who has been working at the bureau for 14 years, was at work at 3.30am yesterday preparing for floods, heavy rain and thunderstorms in the region.
'Emergency services take our advice based on the weather information and flood warnings that we give them,' Mr Carson said.
'They have to make the call on evacuations based on our information.
'We can't work without each other.'
In the early part of Mr Carson's career, his time was spent dealing with drought and top temperatures.
It has only been during the latter part of his career that he has learnt more about flooding and heavy rain."
6.55am: Canberra could have a new favourite website this morning. Actew's Cotter Dam Cam, which showed the dam spectacularly overflowing last night, is still live this morning, and no less spectacular.
Check the camera here.
And here's an image from about 6.45am:
6.50am: ESA is reporting all lanes of Northbourne Avenue have now reopened, but there are other road closures and concerns still in place:
"The Naas Road bridge over the Gudgenby River near Top Naas has been breached by water and may be structurally unsafe. Local residents should not attempt to cross this bridge until it has been assessed once the river level has dropped. In the meantime barricades are being erected.
"The Smiths Road Bridge over the Gudgenby River is also closed until further notice.
"Flemington Road city bound bus lane between Sandford Street and Exhibition Park in Canberra has reopened."
Overnight: Rains have eased over Canberra and the surrounding region, with today's forecast predicting just a few millimetres more today before a return of heavier falls on the weekend.
Canberra Avenue at Fyshwick has now reopened, after being closed overnight. Majura Road is scheduled to reopen from about 6.30am. For further information on road closures, visit the ESA website.
The ACT SES has 131 calls outstanding at 5.45am after working through the night. A big thank you to volunteer and Fire and Rescue crews, who have been inundated with a total of 520 calls for help since the extreme weather began on Tuesday afternoon. If you require assistance, contact the SES on 132 500.
The Molonglo River at Oaks Estate started receding just before midnight after reaching a peak of 7.54m. The river is still at a major flood level.
The Queanbeyan River is still experiencing minor flooding, but river levels are currently falling. The SES continues to advise caution.
Flood evacuation orders are still in place in both Goulburn and Cooma, where river and dam levels are being monitored.
1am: As we enter the wee hours of the morning, the rain has eased and it's time for us to take a short break. Before we go, however, just two more photos sent to us by readers. The first one was taken by Andrew yesterday afternoon and shows floodwater at Coppins Crossing. The other one was taken by Nikkayla and shows a creek at Amaroo. She says there is normally very little water - not so now.
12.45am: Adam Spence has kindly sent through the response he's giving to people who are concerned about the state of the dam:
"Regarding the unfinished dam overflowing, it's really not as big a deal as it may appear.
For starters the original Cotter Dam, which was structurally deficient and the builders underestimated the uplift force on it, was left only half built between the end of WWI and the 1940s. They kept it at a far lower height with a broad, flat top much like the new dam wall is at the moment. Despite the deficiencies and the miscalculations which came to light later, the dam survived very frequent overflowing.
When they later raised it, they actually decided not to build it to the originally designed height of 30m because of fears about the integrity of the dam. So from the late 40s to today, it was actually never finished!
The new dam is a concrete gravity dam, like the original Cotter. The force that keeps it in place is a combination of the wall against the abutments on each side and more importantly the force of the concrete downwards against the earth by gravity itself. Also, being a concrete dam, overflow does little to erode it. So it's not going anywhere easily.
Finally floods have overflown other Canberra dams during construction with no ill effect. The original Cotter flooded during operations to raise it, and the Googong Dam was severely flooded during construction on numerous occasions. Googing being an earth and rock fill embankment, overflowing water is very dangerous and yet it held up."
12.35am: Dave from Uriarra Village tells us he's about to pop down to Cotter Dam for a look, after he finishes off some work (yep, we know the feeling Dave!).
"If you think it’s impressive on Dam Cam, it’s even more impressive in real time. The noise and sheer volume of water going through is incredible," he says.
12.30am: It seems the SES has put in its final report for the night and the rain has eased. But the weather bureau is still predicting 100mm for many areas between now and Sunday. From 9am-9pm Thursday, Merimbula (107mm) and Perisher Valley (106mm) were two of the worst-hit areas.
For the period from Thursday night to Sunday, many locations within the warning areas are likely to receive about 100 mm, with isolated larger totals. Much of it, however, is moving towards Central NSW and the coast.
Flood warnings remain in place for the Queanbeyan and Molonglo Rivers, the Murrumbidgee River, Cooma and the Snowy River region.
12.01am: Kristine Evans points out that this might not be as spectacular as some of our other shots, but it means those in the vicinity of Giralang drainway just opposite Giralang primary school get waterfront views every time there's this much rain.
11.47pm: For those who haven't seen, here's the latest from Cotter Dam:
11.34pm: Faye has kindly sent an email, with a confession she's turning into a "Dam Cam" weather nerd, up later than usual watching the dam wall overflowing. She asks whether the wall is being damaged by all the water. While I can't answer that quite yet Faye, I can tell you that the dam was undergoing some repairs, and it is doubtful that the top of the dam is equipped for such volumes of water.
It's something our reporting team at the Canberra Times will certainly be chasing up in the morning. The latest is quite spectacular.
11.21pm: Here's something a bit different. Andrew S. caught a couple of lads surfing down a stormwater drain at Woden yesterday afternoon.
And here's the local constabulary, perhaps telling them it's not really a good idea to put yourself in such a dangerous situation.
11pm: We're on standby tonight to ensure we bring you all the latest flood information, so feel to send through stories from throughout a long day of heavy rain. I'm getting a feel for how late-night radio hosts must have it. Drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org to keep me company.
The rain seems to have stopped momentarily, so the weather bureau seems to have got it right, with minimal rain tonight before more falls tomorrow and into the weekend. Let's hope the break gives the water time to subside, particularly in Cooma and Goulburn where people have been forced to evacuate their homes.
Meanwhile, Adam Gambell caught this spectacular picture of Gungahlin Lakes spilling over this afternoon.
10.45pm: Karen Pryce sent this picture of Morriset Bridge in Queanbeyan at 8.30am this morning. Karen's second picture didn't get through cyberspace quite as it should have, but it shows the same area at 6.30pm this evening - with the bridge gone.
10.35pm: This one was sent in by Jian-Wei Liu and shows just how scary the Ginninderra Creek looked this afternoon.
10.21pm: The wet weather isn't just for ducks. Nigel Griffiths sent us this picture, walking the dog along the footpath under the Coyne St bridge in Macarthur this afternoon.
9.45pm: We've just had a chat with Michael Eburn from the SES in Goulburn. They're in for a tense night, also looking after Cooma. There have been evacuations in both towns, and SES volunteers are still doorknocking to make sure everything's in order, and that everyone's safe.
In Goulburn, they've watched the river rise, and it's now dropped a little which is some good news. Mr Eburn says they're still mindful that more rain could change the state of play. Some people have chosen to stay in the evacuation centres, but most have managed to find comfort with family and friends.
9.24pm: The BOM is predicting light showers in the ACT overnight, somewhere in the vicinity of 2-5mm. Volunteer SES crews are still out and about, working through the night with support from ACT Fire & Rescue, ACT Rural Fire Service and the Territory and Municipal Services directorate.
Call 132-500 if you need help.
8.55pm: Thanks everyone for sending in all your weather photos today. There have been some great ones, and we've put a few of the best into a gallery for everyone to see. Click through on this photo from reader Adam Spence to see the full gallery.
8pm: Lights! Dam cam enthusiasts are going to be able to watch the water pour over the top of the Cotter Dam wall all night - albeit with 40-second intervals...
7.53pm: Reader Ged Fitzsimmons, of Turner, reports that a tree has come down in his suburb's pre-school, thankfully missing the playground, but ending up on top of someone's car.
"A huge, rotting old tree has collapsed in today's rainstorms, next to a Northern Canberra pre-school, missing the area where small children normally play, but landing on top a car in the parking lot," he says.
"A couple of things came to mind - the Canberra authorities have had a program of seeking out and removing dangerous dead trees, and it seems that they missed this one. Also, it wasn't particularly windy, and there was no lightning at the time.
"The photographs show that there was almost nothing holding up this monster - the roots are obviously rotted through. It appears the rain-soaked ground has finally allowed this tree to drop. Imagine if it had swung the other way and fallen when kids were playing in the school grounds?"
7.43pm: Dam cam shows us that more and more water is spilling over the top of the new Cotter dam wall.
7.37pm: The Bureau of Meteorology has updated its flood warning. It predicts major flooding at Oaks Estate, where the river is expected to reach 7m by 9pm, while Queanbeyan is only forecast to have minor flooding, with the river peaking at 6.2m in about 20 minutes.
"An average of 72mm of rain has fallen during the past 39 hours to 6pm today.
"Major flood levels are occurring at the Oaks Estate gauge where the river is rising. Upstream of Oaks Estate minor to moderate flooding is continuing along the Queanbeyan and Molonglo rivers. Further rain is forecast for the next 24 hours which could cause additional river level rises. The situation is being closely monitored."
7.11pm: A little bit of good news for our roads. The ESA tells us that Black Mountain Road is open again, but Canberra Avenue is going to close again soon. There have also now been more than 400 calls for help.
"Black Mountain Road is now open and a reminder that Canberra Avenue at the Jerrabomberra Creek Bridge, Fyshwick (between Hume Place and Monaro Highway) will be closed from 7.30pm until at least 7am tomorrow.
"ACT State Emergency Service has now received a total of 419 calls for help since 3pm Tuesday. Additional support is being provided by ACT Fire & Rescue and the ACT Rural Fire Service and Territory and Municipal Services directorate."
7.05pm: Reporter Peter Jean has an update on the problems at Canberra Hospital.
"Minor flooding at the Canberra Hospital has forced the shutdown of a linear accelerator used in radiation treatment of cancer patients," he says.
"Health director-general Peggy Brown said hospital and health services were continuing to operate normal."
6.46pm: And for those heading home late - or on their way back out again - a reminder to be careful on the roads. ACT Policing have already responded to several accidents recently, and are urging people to drive to the conditions.
Traffic hazard roundabout Yamba Dr/Melrose Dr. Car broken down in lane blocking traffic. Please slow down in area and drive to conditions.— ACTPol_Traffic (@ACTPol_Traffic) March 1, 2012
4 vehicle collision Clift Cres/Heagney Cr Richardson. Vehicles blocking traffic. Please avoid area.— ACTPol_Traffic (@ACTPol_Traffic) March 1, 2012
2 Vehicle Collision Domnion Cct/Fitzroy St Forrest. Vehicles blocking road emergency services attending.— ACTPol_Traffic (@ACTPol_Traffic) March 1, 2012
6.39pm: All this water is also affecting the ABC's radio transmitters at Gungahlin, and there is a possibility the 666AM signal may go off air. Local ABC will switch to 102.3FM in Canberra and Queanbeyan if it does lose its signal, and to 90.3FM in Goulburn and 1602AM in Cooma.
6.21pm: Another update from the SES. It is warning people to stay off the Naas Bridge, which may be structurally unsound.
"The Naas Road bridge over the Gudgenby River near Top Naas has been breached by water and may be structurally unsafe. Residents should not attempt to cross this bridge until it has been assessed. It will be assessed once the river level has dropped. In the meantime barricades are being erected.
"Please be reminded that Apollo Road, Naas Road and Boboyan Road are closed to public access."
6.18pm: Reader Bonnie Allen got home from work to her Isabella Plains home today, to find she had a new pool in her back yard. No doubt she is not the only person who will be getting home about now to a wet surprise.
6.15pm: Reader Adam Spence is continuing his tour around rain-affected Canberra, and adds this shot of Scrivener Dam to the ever-growing number of his shots we're putting up.
He's also been at the ANU where Sullivans Creek is flowing strongly.
"The new ANU white water rafting course, now open behind the Drill Hall Gallery and Sports Centre," he says.
6.05pm: While many of us are moaning about how the rain is slowing us down getting home, spare a thought for all those selfless SES volunteers and others who have been out helping people all day. Attorney General Simon Corbell has turned to Twitter to thank them. We here at the CT thank them, too.
A big thankyou to all SES, Fire Rescue, RFS and ACT Gov staff for their hard work over last 36 hours during this major rain event— Simon Corbell MLA (@SimonCorbell) March 1, 2012
5.59pm: Frances Stewart is continuing her travels around Canberra capturing the impact of all this rain on our city. Here she's taken 20 seconds of video showing how fast the water is moving at Molonglo Reach.
5.47pm: There's more rain in those clouds yet, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
As residents in low-lying areas around the region keep an eye on rising river levels, the duty forecaster at Canberra's weather bureau has confirmed there is a little bit more rain to come this evening.
We can expect another 10mm to fall this evening in the Canberra and Queanbeyan areas, with rain persisting until about 10pm.
From 10pm we will enter a period of "relative dry" for about 36 hours as the trough over Canberra weakens, with sporadic showers dropping just a few millimeters of rain tomorrow.
However, that trough is due to reintensify over the weekend. Initial forecasts suggest another 50-100mm of rain could fall over Saturday and Sunday. We'll keep you updated as more information comes in.
5.39pm: This just in from the ACT government:
"Canberra Avenue has just been re-opened in both directions at the Jerrabomberra Creek Bridge, Fyshwick (between Hume Place and Monaro Highway).
"Due to the predicted rainfall it will be closed again at 7:30pm until at least 7:00am tomorrow."
5.27pm: Editor-at-Large Jack Waterford has this historic contribution about perhaps the biggest flood seen in this part of the world - at least by white men - and how it destroyed an entire railway:
"The biggest flood recorded in Canberra over the past 200 years was in May 1925, before the building of Lake Burley Griffin. In Canberra it caused the Molonglo to spread out to a size much bigger than the Lake, indeed to what would be covered were the Lake about 1.2 metres higher. Among areas inundated would have been much of the Causeway and lower Kingston, Acton and Weston Park as well as near the National Gallery and Library. The flood cut Queanbeyan and Fyshwick off from south Canberra.
Ruins of the railway bridge over the Molonglo River in 1922 after the big flood.
"But this was not the flood which had the biggest planning effect. Canberra Railway Station had been planned for what is now Genge St, and it had been expected that the line would continue to Yass where it would meet up with the railway to Melbourne. (This proximity to the planned station was what inspired the founders of The Canberra Times to chose their original site in Mort Street, Civic, just next to the station.)
"Track was laid from the existing station at Queanbeyan to a temporary station at Kingston, and an interim light rail track extended further into Civic, crossing the Molonglo River on a wooden bridge near Duntroon. That line also crossed a causeway over a dry bed of the diverted Jerrabomberra Creek.
"In August 1922, a big flood restored the Jerrabomberra to its old bed, and swept away most of the bridge across the Molonglo. The track on the western side of the river continued to be used for building works, and, initially, there were plans to restore the bridge.
"But soon an efficiency-oriented Cabinet decided not to take the line past Kingston and cancelled plans to rebuild the bridge. By legend, workmen had ripped up all of the track to the old bridge before it was discovered that a locomotive had been left behind in Civic."
5.15pm: In the latest update from ESA, the ACT SES has responded to 379 calls for help since 3pm Tuesday. Most of those calls have been received today, and relate to water damage.
There is no immediate risk to residents or businesses in the Oaks Estate area.
5.05pm: In an unofficial answer to our commenter's question earlier, Tim the Yowie Man has thrown his opinion in the ring on Lake George:
Lake George needs several yrs of above average rain 2 fill 2 100% but at least this rain is making it look like a lake again.— Tim the Yowie Man (@TimYowie) March 1, 2012
4.55pm: As Queanbeyan nears its flood peak this evening, it's worth digging up a little history on flood events in the area. While the most recent reference point are the floods of December 2010, many Queanbeyan residents will have memories that stretch back a little further.
Queanbeyan experienced significant floods in 1974, 1976 and 1988.
The 1976 flood, which struck while the Googong Dam was being renovated, was so fierce it ripped out part of Queanbeyan’s Riverside Cemetery, including coffins.
Queanbeyan resident Jess Grogan recalls the grisly scene:
"In the 1970s the floodwaters back then washed dead bodies out of Queanbeyan cemetery further upstream."
We didn't have a file photo of the 1976 floods to hand, but we found this one in the archive:
Morriset Street Bridge inundated during the 1974 Queanbeyan flood.
4.40pm: River levels continue to fluctuate. The Bureau has reissued the flood warning for Queanbeyan, revising the flood description to minor flooding. The peak remains the same at 6.2m.
There has been no change in the forecast for Oaks Estate.
4.36pm: Now there is a specific incident to report: ESA is warning of a tree across the road at Lhotsky Street, Charnwood. ACT Fire and Rescue are currently on scene clearing debris.
4.35pm: Just a reminder as people leave work that traffic around town is quite heavy. While ACT police have confirmed there are no specific incidents immediately, there are multiple road closures in place, and conditions remain slippery.
Drivers are urged to proceed with caution, pay heed to all warning signs, and always drive to the conditions.
Our night producer John McNamara has just arrived at work, and reports traffic chaos on the south side:
"Traffic in inner-south Canberra at a crawl thanks to the closure of Canberra Avenue both ways at the Jerrabomberra Creek bridge.
With water levels still rising, don’t expect it to re-open anytime soon, so heading to Fyshwick and Queanbeyan is going to be increasingly hard.
Stuart Avenue heading up from the Hume Place roundabout at Fyshwick to Narrabundah College was chock-a-block and not moving very quickly at around 4pm. Expect very extended travel times as peak hour approaches."
4.30pm: Yet more official confirmation that it is very, very wet. Weatherzone, a Fairfax-owned company, says Canberra is on target for its biggest downpour in 23 years and potentially its biggest in 62 years.
"The nation's capital has had 16mm since 9am today, giving it more than 100mm in under three days. If it gains 31mm in the 24 hours to 9am Friday it will have accumulated 130mm, which would be its highest three-day total since 1989.
"In that year, 159mm fell in three days, which is a three-day record. If by Sunday morning it gains another 100mm, which is possible, this would break its five-day record of 205mm, set in 1950."
4.20pm: Reporter Ewa Kretowicz says the best way to get an idea of just how much water there is out at the Cotter Dam construction site at the moment is to have a look at the space between the new wall and the old wall:
"Usually the area between the old dam wall and the new dam wall is free of water. In the past 24 hours this vast space has filled with water.
'Prior to the commencement of the rain event we had a total buffer of over 7 gigalitres, or 7,000 megalitres, of air space. This has all but eroded in the last 24 hours and the volume of water that has filled the buffer equates to 17,500 swimming pools,' Cotter Dam project Ray Hezkial said."
For those who are a little more visual-minded, here's a file photo showing the gap between the new and old walls that is now full:
4.12pm: Flood warnings have been upgraded for the Queanbeyan and Molonglo Rivers again this afternoon.
The Bureau of Meteorology is now forecasting moderate flooding in Queanbeyan and major flooding in Oaks Estate.
The Queanbeyan River is expected to reach 6.2m at about 5pm, while the Molonglo River at Oaks Estate is predicted to hit 7m at 7pm.
Evacuation warnings are still in place for parts of Queanbeyan. It is expected that the lower carparks along the Queanbeyan River will flood.
4.05pm: We've had a question in via the comments, asking whether there is now water in Lake George. We'll chase it up from our end, but if anyone is out that way, feel free to send in a photo or reply to our commenter below.
4.00pm: If Twitter is anything to go by, the closure of Canberra Avenue at Fyshwick looks to have been the subject of plenty of conversation this afternoon:
3.55pm: Emergency Services have confirmed that Canberra Hospital and Health Services have been affected by flooding. This just in:
"ACT Government Health Directorate Director-General Dr Peggy Brown, today confirmed that Canberra Hospital and Health Services has suffered minor flooding due to the severe storms.
All services at Canberra Hospital and Health Services continue to operate as normal."
3.38pm: The latest update on Cotter Dam from reporters Ewa Kretowicz and Graham Downie. The new Cotter Dam wall is expected to overflow at about 8pm tonight:
"Water is rising against the partially completed dam wall, which sits 11m above the old dam, at a rate of more than half a metre an hour and millions of dollars' worth of machinery sitting on top of the wall will be submerged and is in danger of being swept away.
The new wall is holding about five gigalitres of water and the bypass pipe continues to channel water downstream. Its capacity is limited and the water level behind the new wall continues to rise. There are no plans at present to retain water behind the new wall after the rain ceases."
3.27pm: If there was any doubt about Point Hutt crossing being closed, Adam Spence can dispel it with these photos:
3.15pm: Reader Christopher Lawson sent in this photo showing Sullivan's Creek which winds through the ANU is flowing quite freely today. We're not sure it's supposed to be that close to the building... And a good time to remind people to steer clear of fast flowing waterways.
3.02pm: The latest news from the Cooma-Monaro Express is that elderly residents of the Sir William Hudson Nursing Home in Cooma, who had been evacuated to the local RSL, are being returned to the facility.
We've got another Cooma pic in, this one from Stef showing the rising water from Church Road Reserve:
"In the 24 hours to 9am, Albury was washed over by 104mm and in the following 2½ hours another 28mm has tumbled down.
The March average for Albury is 38mm."
They've put together a photo gallery of flood photos from the region:
2.50pm: Adding to the list of closures, the National Capital Authority has tweeted Lake Burley Griffin is in no condition for sporting or recreational events at the moment:
Lake Burley Griffin in #Canberra is closed to all sporting and recreational uses following a sewage overflow.— NCA (@nca_media) March 1, 2012
2.40pm: Poor weather has forced the cancellation of the Capital Region Farmers Market at EPIC.
ABC Radio is also reporting that the Braidwood Show has been cancelled.
2.35pm: After being temporally cut off from the office because of the closure of Canberra Avenue, reporter Frances Stewart has sent in another photo while on her detour, showing a river running through the golf course on Jerrabomberra Avenue:
2.25pm: We've been getting some great feedback on the region's worst potholes. A reader from Bungendore who goes by the moniker DB asks us to spare a thought for commuters using the Kings Highway:
"Kings Highway roadworks in two places [are] about 6kms apart.The road surface has been razed back to the sub-surface so that the new part of the highway can be upgraded.
Then came the rain! Resulting in potholes big enough to hide a wombat in. Its like having a deep tissue massage just getting over the potholes."
And we'll take this opportunity to remind everyone to take extra care on all roads today. Pay heed to all warning signs, and do not attempt to cross flooded roads.
2.18pm: Continuing with our readers' before and after theme, Garry Tongs has sent in these photos showing the Queanbeyan railway bridge.
This one shows the scene today:
While this one shows how it looked during the December 2010 floods:
2.15pm: Thanks to Rosie Outhred from Cooma, who has sent in some photos to give our readers a good idea of how much more water is flowing through the region. She took this first photo yesterday:
And she took this picture today:
2.05pm: The weather has been widespread across south eastern Australia. Up in Sydney, a close eye is being kept on Warragamba Dam, which is predicted to breach capacity as early as tonight.
Raw vision of Warragamba Dam at capacity:
1.59pm: While we're scouring Twitter, Actew managing director Mark Sullivan has been showing off the advantage of an all-access pass to the Cotter Dam construction site. Great pictures Mark!
1.55pm: For anyone looking for occasional updates, Queanbeyan SES is on Twitter. They sent out this picture a short while ago:
Low Level Bridge in Queanbeyan. Thanks Lauren and Kirstie twitter.com/QueanbeyanSES/…— Queanbeyan SES (@QueanbeyanSES) March 1, 2012
1.45pm: The Cooma Monaro Express reports that flood fears have promoted paramedics to evacuate dozens of elderly and fragile residents from a Cooma nursing home.
"The marathon effort to relocate the 69 residents of the Sir William Hudson Memorial Nursing Home began at 9am. By lunchtime, there were still 11 residents who needed to be safely moved."
We've got to tip our hats to our colleagues up there - despite being evacuated, they're still sending through detailed reports of the flood situation:
"It is not known at this stage whether the creeks have reached their peak, or whether there is more to come. The SES, like everyone else, is waiting to see what develops upstream, which can quickly find its way to Cooma.
After a brief lull, the rain is starting to fall again."
Keep an eye on their website for all the latest.
1.35pm: Road closures across the ACT continue. This just in from ESA:
"One lane of Northbourne Avenue, Northbound, before Morphett Street in Dickson is now closed to allow for the repair of a collapsed storm water pipe.
Canberra Avenue is also now closed in both directions between Hume Place and the Monaro Highway due to flooding.
Motorists are urged to avoid these areas if possible. Detours are in place via Sturt Avenue, Jerrabomberra Avenue and Hindmarsh Drive."
Sunday Canberra Times reporter Frances Stewart grabbed this shot on her iPhone at the Jerrabomberra Creek Bridge in Fyshwick.
"It is fast flowing and a natural floodway there. It is usually all grass but now it is brown water and there are heaps of people pulling over to have a look at it."
1.25pm: Queanbeyan resident Jess Grogan doesn't mind the high river levels too much, according to reporter John Thistleton:
"It's great, the river has been cleared. Still, there's a disgusting amount of rubbish, and a bad smell too," Jess says.
Here's Jess, left, down by the river with Angie Pavlovic:
1.15pm: Canberra Times rugby reporter Chris Dutton tells us the ACT Brumbies trained at the Australian Institute of Sport today as Canberra’s downpour turned their Griffith headquarters into a swimming pool:
"One of the bowling greens filled with water and began overflowing.
The wet weather also caused a reshuffle for the ACT representative side on Wednesday night.
The ACT XV match against Fiji A was moved from Seiffert Oval in Queanbeyan to Viking Park No2 and most sports grounds in Canberra are now closed."
1.10pm: Keeping with the historic theme, reporter Graham Downie has this to add about the current dam levels at Googong compared to the levels recorded in December 2010 when Queanbeyan flooded:
The Googong reservoir is full and up to 10 megalitres a day is flowing into the storage on the Queanbeyan River.
The spilling water is adding to the deluge along the river. But the flood is relatively minor compared to that of December 2010.
Actew managing director Mark Sullivan said about 10 times the amount of water had rushed over the dam in 2010. Shortly before that, major restoration of the spillway was completed.
Mr Sullivan said that work had proved essential.
"We would have been on a safety alert had the spillways not been rebuilt,'' he said. "The threat of large pieces coming adrift was real.''
And from the old to the new, both Actew and authorities are discouraging flood spectators and dam enthusiasts from heading out to the new Cotter Dam while the water levels are dangerously high.
Instead, you can check out the action on Dam Cam:
12.58pm: As the last of the latest showers pass over it's time for a rainfall update - we've had over 10mm of rain since 9am today. That brings us up to 70mm since 9am yesterday, and pushes us well over 100mm since 9am Monday.
Are we reaching record-breaking levels, I hear you ask?
Not even close, says a Bureau of Meteorology forecaster.
The highest ever daily rainfall recorded in Canberra in the month of March is 126mm, which fell on March 15, 1989, and there's "no way in the world of breaking that today," the forecaster tells us.
The wettest March on record was in 1950, when a massive 312mm of rain fell in Canberra.
12.45pm: Reporter Graham Downie tells us that Canberra's heritage-listed Cotter Dam has gone under water for the first time in its almost 100 years history.
Water overflowing the two upstream dams – Bendora and Corin – continues to surge down the Cotter River and it is now about 6m from the top of the new Cotter Dam.
Actew managing director Mark Sullivan said preparations were being made for water to flow over the new dam, likely to occur at about 7pm today. He said there was absolutely no risk to the structure of the new dam, though some minor scarring could occur to the top surface.
New Cotter Dam will shortly become the dam holding the Cotter reservoir. Old Cotter goes under soon and will disappear for a few days.— Mark Sullivan, ACTEW (@Sullivan_ACTEW) February 29, 2012
12.35pm: Back over at Queanbeyan, the river levels are varying. Reporter John Thistleton says at about 11.30am the water level at Queens Bridge was 4.3m, with a peak of about 5.2m expected about 5pm today.
But with more rain forecast both over the river and over the area, he says all eyes are on the Googong catchment:
"The Googong catchment is critical. This morning, the SES were going to go up in the SES helicopter to monitor the catchment, but because of the fog, they couldn’t.
"Mid-afternoon today they will go up in the helicopter, and that will give them a better idea of what’s happening. They’re hoping visibility will be a little better."
12.20pm: ESA is reporting that Canberra Avenue will be closed within an hour due to flooding:
"Canberra Avenue at the Jerrabomberra Creek Bridge in Fyshwick is expected to be closed within an hour because of flooding.
Road detours will be put in place. Motorists are urged to avoid the area if possible."
12.15pm: Just in from the Goulburn Post:
"As a result of heavy rainfall in Goulburn the State Emergency Service is directing people and businesses along the low lying areas adjacent to the Wollondilly and Mulwaree Rivers in Goulburn City to evacuate."
They've set up a photo gallery of aerial shots of the river:
12.10pm: The first photos are coming through from our reporters in Queanbeyan. Photographer Katherine Griffiths snapped these pics in the caravan park by the river. A good reminder to stay away from swollen waterways:
A few residents have left the caravan park, and a few more are getting ready to move as the river rises. Still, reporter John Thistleton said most are staying put, watching the water.
12.05pm: ACT SES has now received a total of 234 calls for help since the wet weather began on Tuesday. Thankfully, no major damage has been reported in Canberra. If you require assistance, give them a call on 132 500.
The SES are also reporting that Stromlo Forest Park has been closed until further notice. We're updating our full list of road, park and festival closures here.
11.50am: Gang-gang reporter Ian Warden is looking for the worst potholes in Canberra. How is your street standing up? Do you know of some ditches which need fixing? Let us know here, by email, or call us on 02 6280 2211.
11.45am: After a reprieve from the rain over the past couple of hours, another set of showers have moved over the capital, dumping 3mm at Canberra Airport with a little more still left in the clouds.
This brings rainfall totals up to 53mm in the past 24 hours. The average total rainfall for March is 50.7mm.
11.30am: Former Brumbies coach Andy Friend, after completing the Friendly Ride, is currently cycling the final legs of the Bicentennial Track from Canberra to Victoria. He didn't pick a great week for it, tweeting this morning from Khancoban "Can it rain anymore?!"
Can it rain anymore?! Just made Khancoban. Going is tough but we're getting there. Will re assess tonight at Tom Grogin. Rivers flooding ;(— Andy Friend (@andyfriend2011) February 29, 2012
According to the weather bureau, yes, it can. But hopefully easing. Sorry Andy!
11.15am: The Queanbeyan River is visibly rising, with some residents saying they believe it is rising at a rate of 100mm every five minutes.
Ten people have left the caravan park in Queanbeyan voluntarily, but Canberra Times reporter John Thistleton said the park is still nearly full with many residents outside watching the water rise. An evacuation warning is currently in place for Queanbeyan.
Perhaps learning from the major flood in 2010, there is heavy machinery operating at the low-level bridge crossing the river, clearing logs and debris as they float down. This is allowing water to continue flowing downstream, without creating a mini dam or diversions.
This morning: An evacuation order was issued for parts of Cooma, along Cooma Creek and Cooma Back Creek.
Queanbeyan and Oaks Estate are being warned of minor to moderate flooding this afternoon and evening. An evacuation warning has been issued for residents in low-lying parts of Queanbeyan.
A number of people have been cut off south of Tharwa, with ACT and NSW SES crews assessing their needs for the next few days. Evacuations have not been planned at this stage.
An evacuation warning is in place in parts of Goulburn. Full coverage via the Goulburn Post.