Brace for deluge: Eastern states face risk of more floods ahead of a wet, cool summer

Australians will be facing yet more flood risks as wet weather continues in several states.

Residents in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have been warned of more heavy rainfall next week, as the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) monitors flooding risks across eastern Australia.

Rainfall totals of 15 to 20 millimetres are expected across southern Queensland, inland NSW and northern Victoria next week, the BoM stated on Thursday.

With catchments in NSW, southern Queensland and northern Victoria already affected by recent rainfall, there could be a renewed risk of flooding in some areas, including the NSW central tablelands regions.

“There will be some kind of river level response, either renewed rises or potentially moving into next category,” BoM meteorologist Jenny Sturrock told TND.

There are also flood risks for parts of north-east Tasmania, she said.

“That’s a catchment area that’s already seen some rainfall over the past month. It’s a little bit sensitive to any further rainfall and there could be some rainfall  … during Wednesday and Thursday next week.”

New warnings for NSW

The flood warnings come as the NSW State Emergency Service adopts a new flood and tsunami warning system.

The nationally consistent Australian Warning System (AWS) came into effect overnight in NSW, with the state’s emergency services optimistic they will make weather warnings clearer for the public.

The AWS consists of three levels – advice; watch and act, and emergency warning.

Each warning has three components:

  • Location and hazard: The location and type of hazard affecting the community
  • Action statement: Statements range from ‘stay informed’ at the advice level; ‘prepare to evacuate’ at the watch and act level, and ‘evacuate now’ in the emergency warning level
  • The warning level: The severity of the natural hazard, based on the consequence to the community.

The NSW SES stated the approach will provide communities with greater clarity, with the state’s emergency services having experienced their busiest 12-month period on record.

“Early warnings save lives. Our new warnings will contain very clear action statements to enable the community to make safe decisions,” NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York said.

“If you live in a community that has received flood warnings in the past, it is important to learn how the NSW SES warnings are changing, and prepare for what action you will take when a future disaster strikes.”

The new warning system is effective in NSW from September 30. Photo: NSW SES

The AWS should provide a more consistent approach to emergency advice.

States and territories are gradually transitioning to the new system, with Victoria making the shift earlier this year.

Along with the new warning tiers, the NSW SES have also launched a new interactive online map, where residents will be able to view current warnings around them.

Wet summer ahead

The BoM confirmed on Thursday in its rainfall forecast for October to December that Australians can expect a wet summer, with cooler temperatures between October and December.

The rare, third consecutive La Nina and reverse Indian Ocean Dipole events have created conditions for increased rainfall.

“Combined with warmer waters around our north and weather systems generally further south than normal, this typically means more rainfall over Australia,” senior climatologist Felicity Gamble said.

Ms Gamble said it was “rare” to see so much water flowing through catchments in the country’s east.

“Any further rain increases the flood risk, particularly in eastern Australia, where soils are wet, and rivers and storage levels are already high.”

As for the western states, BoM said drier-than-usual conditions are likely for large parts of Western Australia and even western parts of Tasmania.

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