‘One-in-100-year’ storms trigger flash flooding in Australia

Fire-ravaged country faces fresh misery amid escalating climate change emergency

Colin Drury
Saturday 18 January 2020 12:21
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Storms trigger flash flooding in Australia

Fire-ravaged Australia is facing fresh misery after a storm described as a one-in-100-year event caused flash flooding across swathes of the east coast.

Torrential rain doused some bushfires but it also caused major submersions in Brisbane and along the Gold Coast of Queensland on Friday and Saturday.

Emergency services had to carry out at least three rescues, including two people who were caught in cars in swift-moving water and a mother and child trapped after a tree toppled onto their vehicle.

At least 50 homes have been reported flooded in Brisbane, while major highways, including a stretch of the Pacific Motorway, have been shut.

Thunder and downpours also hit the states of Victoria and New South Wales, knocking out power to hundreds of homes. Sydney experienced its wettest day in four months.

Kimba Wong, forecaster with Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, said that up to 300 millimetres of rain had fallen in just a few hours in some areas.

“The highest total that we have recorded is 330 millimetres at Loder Creek on the Gold Coast, so some very heavy rainfall there,” she said. “We did have an emergency warning for that rainfall because we had some reports of flash flooding in some locations and in some locations it was a one-in-100-year event.”

More showers and thunderstorms may be on the way over the next couple of days, she added.

The storms come as some of the worst bushfires in Australia’s history continue to rage.

At least 29 people have been killed since September, with more than 2,500 homes destroyed and an area nearly a third the size of Germany scorched as flames exacerbated by record temperatures have fanned across the country.

Australia fires: Huge red flames rage as crews continue to protect properties close-by across NSW

A billion animals are estimated to have perished.

Experts say a combination of extreme heat, prolonged drought and strong winds have exacerbated the seasonal fires, with the country in the grip of an unprecedented heatwave.

Record temperatures have occurred regularly over the past three months, with the country’s hottest day ever – an average 41.9C – being charted on 18 December.

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