Parts of western Sydney were spared after less than expected rain fell in the area, but major flooding continues and more rain is set to fall over the weekend.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) warned that another cold front would sweep through New South Wales on Saturday morning, bringing severe weather to “much of Australia’s east coast” over the course of the weekend.
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Heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected to hit Sydney, Newcastle and Illawarra on Saturday as the low pressure area moves across the east coast.
The BOM urges everyone in affected areas to check regularly for alerts and updates on conditions in your area.
About half a million people have been told to evacuate their homes in NSW as catastrophic flooding continues, but less than expected rainfall has brought some breathing space to those making the route to the buried Warragamba Dam.
Around 130,000 households lining the path of the Warragamba Dam spillway in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region of western Sydney were given respite on Thursday afternoon with the news that flooding is unlikely to be any worse than during the devastating March 2021 floods.
With dozens of evacuation orders across the state, it remains to be seen whether residents of some of them will get the all-clear to return home on Friday.
Tens of thousands of people living in Sydney’s western, north-west and south-west suburbs, including Windsor, North Richmond, Camden and Milperra, have been urged to flee with evacuation centers set up in suburbs such as Canley Vale and Blacktown.
More than 300 schools across the state are closed due to flooding.
It had been forecast that around 600 gigalitres of water would spill, but with less rainfall than expected in the catchment area, WaterNSW said the forecast has been revised down to 300 to 350 gigalitres per day.
That’s less than the 440 gigaliters a day that spilled out of the dam during last year’s floods.
“This forecast is still subject to deliberation by the Bureau of Meteorology and will ultimately be driven by the intensity of the rain event and the inflows generated,” WaterNSW said Thursday.
Most dams in Greater Sydney have been phased out, including all dams in the Upper Nepean region.
While the Warragamba Dam overflow has been revised downwards, several rivers are still at or near their flood level.
The Bureau of Meteorology said Thursday night major flooding was expected in Windsor as the Hawkesbury and Lower Nepean rivers continued to rise.
Moderate to major flooding is expected in western Sydney along the Hawkesbury, Nepean and Georges Rivers and the Colo and Macdonald Rivers in Menangle, North Richmond, Penrith and Windsor, with dozens of suburbs on high alert.
Wallacia experienced moderate flooding Thursday afternoon following Nepean River peaks in Menangle and Camden.
Farther north, the Richmond River delivered major flooding in Coraki, Bungawalbyn and Woodburn Thursday, peaking near record high water levels set in March 1974, but Casino and Kyogle fell back below low flood levels.
The SES responded to more than 2,500 requests for assistance and conducted 144 flood rescues in the 24 hours to 5 p.m. Thursday.
Sydney avoided its heaviest rains on Thursday, with more intense rainfall in the north in the Hunter region and in the south in the Illawarra.
Endeavor Energy is advising customers in low-lying areas to prepare now for power outages ahead of rising flood levels.
About 650 properties – mostly along the Hawkesbury, Nepean and Colo rivers – had power outages.
They are expected to be without power for several days.
Further north, thousands of properties remain without power after flooding earlier in the week.
Essential Energy said Thursday night that 13,800 customers in the Mid-North Coast and Northern Rivers regions were without power after power was restored to more than 28,800.
Much of the damaged network is still underwater.
Sydney weather forecast
More severe weather is expected around NSW, particularly along the coast.
While the low-pressure system that brought hundreds of millimeters of rain and devastating flooding to several areas in Queensland and NSW last week is expected to ease overnight through Friday, heavier weather could be on the way.
Bureau meteorologist Jackson Browne said the low is expected to wash out overnight, but another cold front en route from Victoria will bring more rain and severe weather into the weekend.
Another cold front en route from Victoria will bring more rain and severe weather into the weekend, bureau meteorologist Jackson Browne warned Thursday.
More rain could cause rivers to surge again across the state, the BOM warns.
NSW flood updates
Clean-up efforts and searches for flooded homes continue in Lismore, with four deaths confirmed so far.
The city is also facing shortages of basic necessities such as food, fuel, fresh water and cash as ATMs run out of money.
The BOM has warned that areas of the north mid-coast and Hunter region already affected by flooding could experience renewed surges in rivers.
Warnings of abnormally high tides and damaging surf are also in place for virtually the entire NSW coast, with east-facing beaches at greater risk.
Coastal erosion is likely and low-lying areas could also be affected by tidal flooding.
SES members have come to NSW from Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania to support local units.
Insurers have already received more than 60,000 claims from the recent floods in southeast Queensland and around NSW.
The majority of these claims come from Queensland, but the Insurance Council of Australia expects claims in NSW to increase if the floods continue.
More than 80 percent of the damage relates to flooded properties, the rest to vehicles.
The ICA projects approximately $900 million worth of claims filed by insurers.
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