The flooding rains described as “dangerous and threatening” by the Bureau of Meteorology that are already sweeping along the east coast are just a taste of a soaking forecast for more than two-thirds of the country next week.
- The NSW Mid North Coast is facing intense rain, possible life threatening flooding, hazardous surf and gusty conditions
- A blocking high is directing moist air on to NSW
- A north-west cloudband will extend from the Kimberley to Tasmania
A deepening low off the New South Wales coast is due to meet a north-west cloud band stretching from the Kimberley to Tasmania.
“It is a pretty intense set-up,” said senior forecaster Jackson Browne from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).
The NSW Mid North Coast has already seen torrential rain and is facing the risk of life-threatening flooding, hazardous surf, and gusty conditions as a blocking high in the Tasman Sea directs a strong, moist flow towards the NSW coast.
“We’re seeing lots and lots of moisture just trucking in, bringing with it a deepening trough and just plenty and plenty of rainfall,” Mr Browne said.
The region has already seen some weather stations receive over 300 millimetres of rain in the past 24 hours.
Cloud band crossing the country
Meanwhile, a tropical low over the Kimberley in Western Australia is expected to extend a cloud band all the way to Tasmania by early next week.
“A lot of that tropical activity and tropical moisture will be drawn down by this really large mid-latitude system,” Mr Browne said.
The bureau predicts temperatures will be exceptionally cold and wet in Central Australia early this weekend as the cloud band passes through.
“At this time of year it’s typical to get 35, 40 degrees C there, and we’re talking temperatures on the order of a maximum of 20 degrees,” Mr Browne said.
The cloud band is expected to extend into Queensland, NSW, and eventually Victoria and Tasmania early next week.
“Many locations will receive at least a month’s worth of rainfall. In some places two to three times what they can expect to receive in March,” Mr Browne said.
La Niña returning to neutral
The back-to-back rain events come as La Niña — which brought above-average rain to much of Australia this summer — has been predicted to return to a neutral state this autumn.
ENSO sea temperatures have already returned to neutral, but the atmosphere is still in a La Niña state.
“We’re definitely past the peak of the event,” said the BOM’s Felicity Gamble.
But she said La Niña’s effects will continue on for a month or two.
“As we’re heading into autumn we’re likely to see those cloud patterns continue pretty much throughout April,” Ms Gamble said.
“But by the time we get to May we’re seeing the rainfall signal really drop back.”
Quietest bushfire season since 2010-11
The recent rain has prompted the NSW Rural Fire Service to end the bushfire danger period at the end of March.
“This past fire season has been the quietest fire season since the 2010-2011 fire season, so more than a decade,” said Ben Shepherd from the NSW RFS.
This summer is the first in a decade that NSW has not experienced a significant bushfire emergency.