License article

Live: Wild weather moves south

Show comments

Wild weather drenches Sydney

Sydney is experiencing its heaviest rainfall in a decade as wild weather from ex-cyclone Oswald passes through the region.

A slew of January rainfall records are likely to have been broken as the remnants of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald heads south along the NSW coast.

The weather bureau is still assessing the quality of the data collected for the 24 hours to 9am but initial numbers point to Crystal Creek on the mid-north coast’s Bellinger River as recording the highest rainfall total of 288 millimetres.

Sydney’s Observatory Hill recorded 95mm of rain for the period, the highest level since last March’s severe rainstorms.

In the Sydney region, the north shore’s French’s Forest and Castle Cove both saw 161mm land in their rain gauges in the 24 hours to 9am today.

The Upper Rous River probably saw the state’s heaviest falls from the storm, with 944mm landing in the border zone site near Queensland over the past three days.

“It’s not far short of a metre of rain,” Aaron Coutts-Smith, NSW manager of climate services at the weather bureau.

“When you think of those volumes, it’s no wonder there’s been flooding.”

That tally, though, fell short of the state’s all-time record over three days, of 1090mm recorded in December 1975 at Bowraville, Dr Coutts-Smith said.

Some more details on the evacuation order issued in Grafton.

More than 1500 residents near Grafton have been ordered to evacuate this morning as authorities prepare for the Clarence River to peak at midday.

The Clarence River is expected to peak at 8.1 metres, but the SES says it could be higher.

‘‘There is a chance of that. What we’re dealing with here is a flood of record. There has never been a flood of this heighr in recorded history in Grafton,'' Caroline Ortel, Region Controller at the NSW State Emergency Service, said at a press conference a short time ago.

The State Emergency Service issued a flood evacuation order for Dovedale and North Meadow at 8.30am, telling residents to leave their homes immediately.

‘‘Do not delay your evacuation,’’ the SES said in a statement.

‘‘Roads will be congested or closed. You could become trapped and need rescue. Remaining in flooded areas is dangerous and may place your life at risk.’’

Authorities originally expected the Clarence River in Grafton to peak at 7.9 metres at about 9am on Tuesday.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a major flood warning for the Clarence Valley, and a moderate flood warning for the Orara River.

Our list of road closures in Sydney and around New South Wales has been updated again. Please see our 7.44am post.

Thousands of residents in low-lying areas of Grafton in northern NSW have been ordered to evacuate.

We'll have more details soon.

Back to top

On page one of today's Herald, reporters Jacob Saulwick, Peter Hannam and Gemma Khaicy write that reports prepared for the O'Farrell government say large parts of far-western Sydney remain vulnerable to the types of flooding that occurred in Brisbane two years ago.

The reports say large-scale casualties and billions of dollars in property damage would be expected unless the Warragamba Dam wall is raised 23 metres to reduce the chance of flooding in the Hawkesbury Nepean Valley, or roads are improved to let people escape from a flood.

The dire warning is not predicted to eventuate from the latest downpour.

One of the reports prepared for the government, by the consultants Molino Stewart, outlines the devastation that would occur if there was a repeat of the largest recorded flood, in 1867.

It would put at risk more than 26,000 people in places such as Emu Plains, Penrith and Windsor, and cause thousands more to evacuate. An 1867-level flood would hit about 7000 homes, cause significant structural damage to 1200, flood more than 1600 businesses, and cause more than $3 billion in damage.

Read the full story.

We've heard from Qantas on the status of east coast flights on Tuesday.

A spokesman said services were expected to return to normal, but passengers would need to check online during the day.

"We are working to get customers who were on cancelled flights yesterday to their destination," he said.

Both Qantas and Jetstar were adding extra services, he said, and some larger aircraft may be put on for Qantas flights.

The spokesman added Qantas had offered support to the Queensland government to help with the recovery effort, "particularly in and out of regional communities like Bundaberg''.

Information on Virgin Australia flights can be found in our 8.52am post.

As of 7am AEDT on Tuesday, insurers have received some 6100 claims for losses in Queensland from the floods, the Insurance Council of Australia says.

Those claims involve insured losses estimated at $72 million, with the tally now "rising rapidly", according to the ICA's head of corporate affairs, Campbell Fuller.

So far, insurers are yet to receive many claims relating to losses in NSW from the storm.

We are still seeking information on flights in and out of Sydney from Qantas and Jetstar, but we have this information from Virgin Australia.

Several Virgin flights in and out of NSW and Queensland have been cancelled, including between Sydney and Melbourne, Melbourne and Brisbane, Sydney and Brisbane and Sydney and Canberra.

Virgin Australia has advised passengers that if their flight has been cancelled, they should have received an SMS notification.

A full list of cancellations can be found here.


Brisbane is preparing for its river to peak at 11am Queensland time on Tuesday (midday AEDT).

Brisbane Times has been providing round-the-clock coverage of the floods - follow their comprehensive live coverage here.

A view of Brisbane's CBD from Mowbray Park.
A view of Brisbane's CBD from Mowbray Park. Photo: Danielle Cronin
Back to top

If you've just arrived at work and are joining us, here's where you can find important information on this page:

Reporter Megan Levy has written a wrap of what's happened so far with the weather in Sydney and the forecast - read it here.

We have just updated our list of roads in Sydney and in NSW that are closed - see our 7.44am post.

The city of Bundaberg, about 385km north of Brisbane, has been the area the worst hit by disaster, and is experiencing its worst flood on record. More than 2000 homes are underwater and the force of the floodwaters in the city is so strong it's been feared whole houses could be swept away.

On Monday night, 1500 stranded residents were airlifted to safety and placed at one of nine evacuation centres.

Bundaberg's Burnett River is expected to peak at up to 10 metres on Tuesday.

In Burnett Heads, near Bundaberg, an 81-year-old man died after falling off his yacht as he tried to secure it against wild weather on Sunday.

These photos show the extent of the crisis.

Some incredible raw footage here of an immense blanket of sea foam that enveloped part of the Sunshine Coast:

Sea foam blankets Sunshine Coast

RAW VISION: A stretch of the Sunshine Coast has been blanketed in sea foam, swept ashore by the remnants of former tropical cyclone Oswald.

Back to top

Flying out of or in to Sydney Airport this morning? Long delays are again expected, with passengers this morning complaining on Twitter of cancelled flights and huge lines at check-in.

Sydney Airport tweeted about an hour ago it was ''back to normal'' at the airport however passengers flying to storm-affected areas should check with their airline before coming to the airport.

While the flooding in Queensland this week has been nothing like the disaster of January 2011, in which 35 people died, these photos show just how serious it has been in some areas.

In Brisbane on Tuesday, the Brisbane River is forecast to peak at 2.6 metres - almost half the 2011 peak of 4.46 metres - at 11am AEST (12pm AEDT). A second flood peak is likely at noon on Wednesday.

Flooding has caused road closures in Sydney and northern NSW. All roads between Queensland and NSW have been cut.


Motorists are advised to use extreme caution when driving around Sydney on Tuesday morning because of wet conditions, flash flooding and road closures. A number of sets of traffic signals are blacked out or flashing yellow. Drivers should take care when approaching traffic lights that aren't working.

Sydney's south

  • Royal National Park - Audley Road at Audley Weir closed in both directions.

Sydney's west

  • Glenfield - Cambridge Avenue at Causeway closed in both directions.
  • Shanes Park - Stony Creek Road at Causeway closed in both directions.

Sydney's north

  • Oxford Falls - Wakehurst Parkway remains closed in both directions.

Central Sydney

  • Kensington - Two of three southbound lanes on Anzac Parade at Day Avenue closed.
  • Rozelle - Inbound traffic on The Crescent approaching James Craig Road affected by flooding.

Visit livetraffic.com or call 132 701 for more.

Northern NSW

  • The Pacific Highway is closed between Ballina and Grafton at Shark Creek and Swan Creek. No detours are available.
  • The Summerland Way is closed about 11 kilometres south of Kyogle and about 10 kilometres south of Casino.
  • The Gwydir Highway is closed about 70 kilometres west of Grafton at Jackadgery due to a landslip.
  • Armidale Road is closed between Ebor and Nymboida.
  • The Gwydir Highway is closed at the Gibralter Ranges in Glen Innes due to fallen trees.
  • Bangalow Road is closed between Bangalow and Lismore.
  • Tweed Valley Way is closed in Murwillumbah.
  • The Bruxner Highway is closed at South Lismore.


North-West NSW

  • The Newell Highway is closed between Boggabilla and Moree there is no access to the Newell Highway from Queensland.
  • The Kamilaroi Highway is closed about 10km west of Breeza to light vehicles. Heavy vehicles are still able to get through.
  • The Bruxner Highway is closed about 70km west of Tenterfield.
  • The Gwydir Highway is closed between just west of Moree and Pallamallawa.


Hunter Region

  • Industrial Drive has reopened at Tighes Hill after an earlier northbound closure due to water on the road.
  • The Golden Highway is closed at Range Road, with local traffic diverted into Range Road.


Illawarra and southern NSW

  • The Illawarra Highway in both directions at Albion Park due to flooding.
  • Audley Road is closed in both directions at the Audley Weir in the Royal National Park due to flooding.
  • Northbound traffic using the Princes Highway through Milton is advised to exercise caution with rocks on the road.
  • Northbound traffic using the Princes Highway between BTU Road and Central Avenue is affected by flooding - motorists can still pass the scene but should exercise caution.
  • One northbound lane of the Princes Highway is closed at the intersection of Hicks Street in Russel Vale due to flooding.
  • The Princes Highway at Albion Park Rail is affected with water over the road however motorists can still access the road with caution.
  • Shellharbour Road at the intersection of Woodland Drive at Barrack Heights is affected with water over the road however motorists can still access the road with caution. 
  • Masters Road at Springhill Road in Spring Hill is affected by water over the road however motorists can still acess the road with caution.

While Sydney was saturated with rainfall of between 80 and 150mm overnight, the heaviest falls had passed by 5am, according to Weatherzone meteorologist Brett Dutschke.

The rain is expected to ease on Tuesday morning and clear by the afternoon, with Sydney expected to reach a maximum of 27 degrees. The rain has also eased in the north of the state, where temperatures are expected to reach the low 30s on Tuesday.

However Mr Dutschke said there was the chance of showers and thunderstorms in coming days.

‘‘While this rain is becoming much lighter and clearing, there is still a moderate amount of instability and it’s enough to cause afternoon showers to develop for the next few days and even a few storms, in eastern parts of NSW and Queensland,’’ he said.

Brisbane, meanwhile, is forecast for a break in the rain, with a fine and partly cloudy day with a maximum of 33 degrees expected.

Weatherzone: Sydney radar

Photographer Peter Rae captures this photo of the heavy seas at Sydney's Bronte Beach a short time ago.

Heavy surf at Bronte Beach, Sydney.
Heavy surf at Bronte Beach, Sydney. Photo: Peter Rae
Back to top