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Wild weather: Dam may overflow

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Sydney braces for more wet and wild weather amid concerns over the Warragamba Dam

A view of Warragamba Dam in April showed it was near capacity. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

TWO states copped a battering and a major dam is at capacity after wild weather brought more torrential rain and damaging winds.

As Queensland residents copped a drenching, NSW residents remain on flood alert after a second east coast low in as many weeks battered the state.

Authorities are keeping a close eye on the almost-full Warragamba Dam as damaging winds and rain continue to build off the NSW coast.

The low developed over the warmer waters off the central or southern NSW coast late last night and is expected to rapidly move out into the Tasman Sea today.

Parts of NSW copped heavy falls over the weekend, with 61mm of rain recorded at Lightning Ridge yesterday morning.

Dangerous, strong winds gusting up to 90km/h are also forecast for coastal areas as a low-pressure system builds over the ocean near the Illawarra region.

However one of the biggest concerns for forecasters and hydrologists is the Warragamba Dam, which is at about 98 per cent capacity.

The dam has spilled several times in the past, most recently in 2013 and again in August 2015.

Warragamba Dam has spilt in the past.

Warragamba Dam has spilt in the past.Source:News Corp Australia

“It’s possible that the dam may spill, but it depends on how much more rain it gets and how widespread across the catchment that rainfall is,” a Bureau of Meteorology forecaster said.

Flood watches have also been issued for several river catchment areas from the Tweed to the Illawarra but the BoM is waiting for further rainfall data before issuing warnings.

Over the past two days Water NSW has warned heavy rainfall could cause the dam to spill.

The NSW State Emergency Service had on Friday warned even 30mm of rain had the potential to cause this.

As of today, the Warrgamba catchment has received 27mm in the past 24 hours.

A spokesman for Water NSW, which manages the dam, said authorities were taking a wait and watch approach to the spill.

He said the possibility of a spill had moved from probable to unlikely, however the spokesman stressed the danger was not over yet.

“We’ve had between 10-40mm across the catchment and with the capacity at 98 per cent a spill was anticipated,” he said.

“However that is now looking more unlikely. We will now have to wait and see how much water and falls makes their way further down.”

The foul weather is expected to hang around the state’s south early in the week before heading towards Bass Strait.

It is the second bout of wild weather to lash the east coast in two weeks, leaving five people dead and a multi-million dollar clean-up bill.

During the last deluge, more than 300 flood rescues were carried out — and more than 30,000 insurance claims worth a combined $235 million across east coast states and Tasmania were lodged in the aftermath.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Gabrielle Woodhouse said while the worst of the rain had left NSW, there were still severe weather warnings in place.

She said a complex low pressure system over southeastern NSW was expected to move rapidly south-southeast during this morning.

Ms Woodhouse said heavy rain could also lead to flash flooding particular in the south coast and the Illawarra regions.

Sydney was battered by wild weather seen here coming in on the cliffs of Diamond Bay, Vaucluse.

Sydney was battered by wild weather seen here coming in on the cliffs of Diamond Bay, Vaucluse.Source:News Corp Australia

“Sydney received 30mm of rain as of 9am yesterday to 7am this morning, while places such as Terrey Hills and Frenchs Forrest received between 50-60mm,” she said.

Other parts of the state received up to 100mm, with the heavy rainfall now making its way down to Victoria.

There is also the potential for damaging winds in excess of 90km/hr along the coastal fringe.

BoM senior forecaster James Taylor also said the main concern now was for the East Gippsland area in Victoria which was expecting severe rain falls.

Mr Taylor said this region could see between 50-100mm out of rain, and that even “150mm was not out of the question.”

He also warned the east coast low was only now developing off the southern NSW coast and severe wind warnings remained in place.

NSW SES spokeswoman Becky Collings told news.com.au that the organisation had braced for the worst, but that thankfully it wasn’t as bad as anticipated.

“We got around 90 calls for assistance and six flood rescues of people trapped in their cars,” she said.

Ms Collings said the worst of the weather appeared to be over but advised people living in flood-prone areas to continue to follow weather updates and advice.

She said if the dam were to spill, any flooding caused would be minor and would mostly affect those in low-lying areas.

The worst of the rain is over for now, but parts of NSW still face a battering from strong winds.

The worst of the rain is over for now, but parts of NSW still face a battering from strong winds.Source:News Corp Australia

FLOODS, WILD WEATHER

NSW wasn’t the only state to cop a battering.

More than 70mm of rain fell in Brisbane in an hour yesterday, leaving thousands of homes without power while flash flooding struck several roads.

A woman and her daughter were rescued from their stranded car in the southern Brisbane suburb of Coopers Plains.

“The water come really quick. When we just got here the water is not too much, it wasn’t too high, but because everywhere (was) blocked we just tried to go in and then we got stuck there,” the woman told the Nine Network.

Several streets in Brisbane were flooded after 106mm of rain fell on the city throughout yesterday — more than half the total coming in the evening.

Streets were also fully or partially closed at the Sunshine Coast, Redcliffe and Caboolture, with fallen trees and flooding causing problems in these areas.

Sunshine Coast resident Julius Toole described how they helped rescue their dog after the storm ripped through.

Cars chance driving through flooded at Mudgeeraba on the Gold Coast. Picture Mike Batterham

Cars chance driving through flooded at Mudgeeraba on the Gold Coast. Picture Mike BatterhamSource:News Corp Australia

“The whole roof got ripped off and I came out and we were just looking into the sky and the water,” he told Nine.

“My partner was screaming and we dug through the rubble and found this guy under the rubble and found this guy under the roof and all the wires and stuff, it was scariest two minutes of our lives.”

The foul weather has pushed south into NSW and is predicted to linger in the state’s south for another day before beginning to clear.

A severe weather warning has been issued for NSW’s south and is expected to remain in place until tomorrow.

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