Sydney told to brace for heavy rains, floods in 'one in a thousand years' event

Floodwaters at the Parramatta Ferry jetty in Sydney on Feb 22, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Sydney must brace for heavy rains and possible flash flooding over the next two days, the authorities said on Tuesday (March 1), as an intense weather system battering Australia's east coast slowly shifts south towards New South Wales, its most populous state.

Sydney, home to more than five million people, and several neighbouring regions could receive up to 150mm of rain within a six-hour period on Tuesday afternoon, the Bureau of Meteorology said. Sydney's mean rainfall for March is 138mm, according to official data.

Nine people have been killed in Australia since the deluge began late last week, with floods submerging towns, roads and bridges in Queensland and New South Wales.

New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet described the wild weather as a "one in a thousand years" event and warned residents in the state's south to get ready to leave their homes immediately if they are asked.

"At the moment, (the weather system) is focused on the north but very quickly, as we are seeing in metropolitan Sydney now... it will move to the south," Mr Perrottet said during a media briefing on Tuesday.

Hundreds of people are still stuck in their homes in the northern New South Wales city of Lismore, which is facing its worst floods on record, amid reports of some spending the night on their rooftops. Mayor Steve Krieg told broadcaster Channel Seven that nine people were still missing, with 400 rescues yet to be carried out.

Australia's east coast summer has been dominated by the La Nina climate pattern, which is typically associated with greater rainfall, for the second straight year.

Brisbane, Australia's third-largest city, has received around 80 per cent of its annual rainfall over the last three days, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Tuesday.

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