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"One-in-100-year event": Thousands told to evacuate as Australia hit by record rains, flooding

Australia's east coast is being hit by record rainfall, with flood warnings issued and a natural disaster declared for parts of the most populous state, New South Wales (NSW).

Details: NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters Sunday western Sydney faced a one-in-50-year flooding event, while parts of the Mid North Coast were facing a "one-in-100-year event."


Like atmospheric taps, Australia currently has two main sources of moisture: a tropical low over northern #WA, and a coastal trough off #NSW.

These two moisture feeds (green/white shades in 🛰️loop) are merging, and will create a multi-state rain and storm band from Monday. pic.twitter.com/Zuusg3QQTr

— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) March 21, 2021
  • Thousands are under evacuation orders in NSW. "Potentially another 4,000 people may be asked to evacuate in and around ... parts of western Sydney," Berejiklian added.

What they're saying: The Australian Bureau of Meteorolgy's (BOM) Agata Imielska told reporters the NSW Mid North Coast and Hunter regions had already broken records on Saturday by up to nearly eight inches.

  • "It's a very significant, record-breaking event with the rainfall that we have seen," Imielska said.
  • Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told Sky News the floods would impact the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. "Clearly there will be expected disruptions for many freight and logistic movements across NSW as a result of these floods," he told Sky News.

The big picture: Much of Australia is being hit by heavy rains or under severe weather warnings. The state of Queensland was also at risk from flash-flooding, with 4.5 inches of rain falling in some parts Sunday.

  • The usually dry central Australia was another region facing flash-flooding threats from heavy rains.

Flashback: A year ago, the region was reeling from catastrophic bushfires.

#NSWRFS crews are assisting #NSWSES in a number of ways from clearing blocked drains to removing fallen trees and even flood rescue operations, as was undertaken yesterday in the Taree area. Stay safe and up to date by following @BOM_NSW and @NSWSES. (Video: Kathryn Elizabeth). pic.twitter.com/EFo3aokDXA

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) March 21, 2021

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