Storms batter Australia and Europe
SYDNEY • The east coast of Australia, including Sydney, was battered by a freak storm yesterday, which left trees uprooted and thousands without power.
The storm struck New South Wales after wreaking havoc in Queensland on Saturday, as an intense low-pressure system brought heavy rains, gales and rough seas.
Hundreds were evacuated from homes across New South Wales, and trapped motorists had to be rescued as floodwaters rose, the State Emergency Service said.
Gusts exceeding 90kmh were recorded, with some parts of the state forecast to see "locally destructive" winds of up to 125kmh, said the Bureau of Meteorology.
Sydney Airport closed two of its three runaways amid high winds, with local and foreign flights affected.
"Forecasters can't recall having a flood watch for the entire east coast of New South Wales in the last 30 years," said senior meteorologist Adam Morgan at the bureau's extreme weather section.
"It's affected a very large proportion of Australia's population, given that a large percentage of Australians live along the eastern seaboard," he said.
Over a 24-hour period up to yesterday morning, there were widespread rainfalls of 100-200 mm, said the bureau. Wooli River recorded the highest level at 469mm.
Rains also deluged the states of Victoria and Tasmania.
The east-coast low is coinciding with a king tide - the highest tide of the year - leading to serious erosion on Sydney's northern beaches.
"Getting a storm event at the exact time as those king tides creates this perfect scenario for coastal erosion," said Dr Mitchell Harley from the University of New South Wales, adding that it was the worst erosion in three decades.
While storm conditions usually generate waves of up to 8m, individual waves of up to 13m had been recorded over the weekend, he said.
More rain was forecast for New South Wales yesterday as the weather system moved south, with fears of localised flooding, but conditions were expected to ease today.