After a relentless day of heavy rain and extreme winds, the severe storm which battered Australia’s east coast yesterday continues to cause havoc for residents and commuters in Sydney.
The State Emergency Service (SES) says they’ve already carried out more than 50 flood rescue operations and received around 5000 calls for assistance.
“We’re not expecting conditions to ease until Wednesday,” SES spokesperson Stephanie Wills said.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) updated its previous forecast of easing conditions for the greater Sydney region, now predicting heavy rainfall and strong winds will continue overnight.
The BoM said today was the wettest day in Sydney since 2002.
— BOM New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) April 20, 2015
NSW Police report a woman and two men from Dungog township, north of Newcastle, died as a result of flooding. Four homes in the town have been washed away, while rainfall in the Hunter Region increases.
Transport NSW has advised that any non-essential travel should be postponed due to the severe conditions.
Cruise ship Carnival Spirit has been forced to wait outside Sydney heads until the Harbour port has been reopened. Passengers have been waiting to disembark since 5am.
There are significant delays at Sydney Domestic Airport, Australia’s busiest aviation hub.
Around 30,000 Sydney homes are without power, according to the SES, after “unprecedented” gale force winds up to 135km/h and as much as 150mm of rain fell overnight.
An estimated 200,000 homes in total are without power across the Hunter region, Central Coast, the Illawarra and Sydney.
Most of the outer northern suburbs of Sydney have been effectively shut off from the city, with one of two northbound lanes of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel blocked by a car breakdown, causing significant delays. This roadway provides critical north-south artery access for commuters.
Other major roads in and out of Sydney are also closed, including Bells line of Road and the Princes highway, which is closed at Sydnenham. One of three citybound lanes on Manly Road approaching the Spit Bridge have been blocked by a fallen tree, resulting in heavy traffic delays.
Train services between Newcastle and Sydney have been cancelled.
Sydney’s heavily trafficked Manly Ferry service has been cancelled, while the fast ferry between Sydney and Circular Quay is continuing but at a reduced speed.
In the eastern suburbs of Sydney the surf is pounding the coastline, with waves between 10 and 14 feet hammering the northern beaches.
Sydney government schools are open for the first day back but education authorities are advising parents to check that their local school is unaffected by last night’s weather. On the Central Coast, more than a dozen schools are closed.
Two people from the small country town of Stroud, one hour north of Newcastle, who were reported missing have been located after strong flood waters washed through town. SES deputy commissioner Steve Pearce said rescue workers are searching for the pair this morning, while dozens of people are stranded at the Stroud Showground.
Four people have already been rescued from the rooftop of the local football oval.
Pearce said the SES is receiving around 200 calls per hour – most from the Hunter and mid-north coast – while many aren’t able to get though because of power outages.
Last night Allianz Global Assistance roadside team received 390 calls for assistance across NSW. Year-on-year, 66% more calls for assistance were made last night than in 2014.
Severe wind gusts, equivalent to a category two cyclone – up to 135km/h – have hammered NSW’s Central Coast.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) says the intense low pressure system near the boundary of the Hunter and Mid North Coast districts is expected to move gradually southwards later today, sticking close to the coast.
Here are some of the incredible photos of the storm posted on social media:
— Kingslayer (@squig_) April 20, 2015