BoM warns severe weather may not be over

UPDATE 5.40pm: SANDBAGS have been put in place in parts of the Byron Bay CBD as a severe weather warning remains current for most of the NSW coast.

The Bureau of Meteorology warned of possible torrential rain and high winds, waves and tides.

With high tides expected over the weekend business and residents in flood-prone areas are asked to be prepared for possible minor flooding.

Parts of Byron Bay were flooded yesterday and today after heavy rain drenched the town over 24 hours to 9am this morning.

At Belongil 283mm was recorded while 275mm was in the gauge at Cape Byron.

The heavy rain, combined with elevated sea levels and heavy seas which prevented the escape of water in Belongil Creek, resulted in flooding in some areas, including businesses in the Byron Bay central business district (CBD).

"Byron Bay is a low-lying area and flooding is a problem during times of heavy and prolonged rain and high tides are not improving the situation," he said.

Phil Warner, Acting Director Infrastructure Services, said staff responded to emergencies throughout the night on Thursday and Friday morning and will be on standby this weekend.

"Council staff were also in the CBD this afternoon talking to business owners who were affected by flooding.

"Drainage problems also contributed to the flooding problem and council will be investigating this as part of its review of the incident," he said.

Belongil and Tallow Creeks are both open to the ocean although the high tides have slowed the escape of water.

Heavy rainfall, likely to cause flash flooding and riverine flooding, is possible across parts of the Northern Rivers, Mid North Coast, lower Hunter, Sydney Metropolitan, Illawarra and eastern parts of the Central Tablelands (including the Blue Mountains) forecast districts.

In a statement, the weather bureau said locations likely to be affected include Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, Gosford, Sydney, Wollongong and Nowra.

But severe weather is also likely across the rest of the Northern Rivers.

"A coastal trough near the northern and central New South Wales coast is bringing increased rainfall and other severe weather to the area," BoM said in the statement.

"This trough is expected to deepen and gradually shift southwards, increasing rainfall and bringing dangerous winds and surf conditions along the central and southern parts of the coast and adjacent ranges during the next few days.

"In parts of the coast, intense and protracted rainfall rates and increased gusty winds are possible with the formation of mesoscale lows embedded within the coastal trough over the next 24-36 hours.

"The location of the heaviest falls will be determined by the movement and strength of the coastal trough, by where thunderstorms occur, as well as to the south of any transient low embedded within the coastal trough."

BoM said "extremely heavy rainfall" was possible across parts of the state from the Central Coast and further south.

"Heavy rainfall is currently expected to ease for parts of the Northern Rivers and northern parts of the Mid North Coast on Saturday, although showers are likely to continue," the bureau said.

Damaging surf conditions are expected to develop during Saturday afternoon, with waves possible exceeding five metres in areas.

In the 24 hours to 9am Friday, 283mm of rain fell at Byron Bay (Belongil Creek Bridge), 275.4mm at Cape Byron AWS and 258.5 Byron Bay (Tallow Creek Bridge).

115mm was recorded in the two hours to 4:18am at Cape Byron AWS, 82mm of which fell in just one hour.

102mm was recorded in the 2 hours to 4:15am at Byron Bay (Tallow Creek Bridge).

The State Emergency Service advises that people should:
* Move vehicles under cover or away from trees.
* Secure or put away loose items around your house, yard and balcony.
* Keep at least 8 metres away from fallen power lines or objects that may be energised, such as fences.
* Trees that have been damaged by fire are likely to be more unstable and more likely to fall.
* Report fallen power lines to either Ausgrid (131 388), Endeavour Energy (131 003), Essential Energy (132 080) or Evoenergy (131 093) as shown on your power bill.
* Don't drive, ride or walk through flood water.
* Keep clear of creeks and storm drains.
* If you are trapped by flash flooding, seek refuge in the highest available place and ring 000 if you need rescue.
* Be aware that run-off from rainfall in fire affected areas may behave differently and be more rapid. It may also contain debris such as ash, soil, trees and rocks.
* After bushfires, heavy rain and the loss of foliage can make the ground soft and heavy, leading to a greater chance of landslides.
* Stay vigilant and monitor conditions. Note that the landscape may have changed following bushfires.
* For emergency help in floods and storms, ring your local SES Unit on 132 500.
Warnings are also available through TV and Radio broadcasts, the Bureau's website at or call 1300 659 210. The Bureau and State Emergency Service would appreciate warnings being broadcast regularly.


UPDATE, 12.30pm: BYRON Shire Council says crews have been busy responding to road issues after the town copped more than 250mm of rain.

>>> Heaviest rain in 46 years, says chief meteorologist

>>> Cars submerged after CBD car park floods

>>> What exactly is a 'meoscale' warning?

>>> PHOTOS: Heavy rain lashes Northern Rivers 

>>> 'Ground zero at 4am': Shop owner's flood nightmare

The heavy rain, in conjunction with a large high tide, have caused flooding in some areas, the council said.

"Crews are continuing to clear drains and manage the various roads issues, with staff also working through the night responding to emergencies,"the council said in a statement.

"Earlier this week (Monday), council scraped the entrance to Belongil Creek in anticipation of heavy rain.

"Further work was done yesterday to help the sand bar burst just after 3pm yesterday afternoon.

Water rising at the drain near The Park in Suffolk Park.
Water rising at the drain near The Park in Suffolk Park. Marc Stapelberg

"The large high tide and heavy seas, particularly have restricted the flow of water from Belongil Creek to the ocean and this has contributed to the flooding in Byron Bay.

"Tallow Creek at Suffolk Park opened naturally to the ocean around 4am."

Staff are currently inspecting infrastructure across the shire, checking for flood and water damage.

This includes sewer and water infrastructure as well as areas in the hinterland that are prone to land slips.

"We did receive a lot of rain in a relatively short timeframe and this will always causes problems but we are working as fast as we can to get things back to normal," Phil Warner, Acting Director Infrastructure Services, said.


UPDATE, 10.55am: A STATE Emergency Services spokeswoman said the situation is easing on the Northern Rivers after they did some rescues in Byron Bay last night.

"The SES did a couple of minor rescues in Byron Bay," she said.

"Some backpackers were unsure of the depth of water outside their residence as it seems the stormwater drains did not cope with 220mm of water which fell overnight."

The rescues were only one of the 147 requests the SES had across the Northern Rivers overnight.

"The majority were about trees down, leaking roofs, needed sandbags and a few had water into premises in Byron," she said.

"It appears as though the rain will continue to ease and move further down the coast."

The SES are advising people not to drive through flood waters, take extra care at all times, obey road closure signs and to check SES and Bureau of Meteorology website.

Police are also urging residents, businesses and motorists to stay informed and be prepared.

"It's important to remember the dangers flood waters can pose, especially after bushfires in these regions," NSW Police Media said in a statement.

"There is likely to be some debris, soil, spiders and other animals that could be washed into our river systems.

Nat Guest took this photo at Bangalow.
Nat Guest took this photo at Bangalow.

"Be aware - there is a lot of danger and risk so it's best to keep away.

"Many motorists haven't experienced significant rain in a while, with the roads likely to be quite slippery as they haven't seen significant water in quite some time.

"Please take extra care and slow down - we want everyone to arrive at their destination safely.

Don't wait 'till a flood warning is issued - be prepared and be resilient."


UPDATE, 9.30am: BYRON Shire Council's acting manager of infrastructure services, Phil Warner, told the ABC much of the inundation around Byron Bay's town centre was the result of drainage difficulties.

He said the council had yesterday worked to lower a sand boom at Belongil Creek, but current ocean and tidal conditions may be hampering stormwater drainage for the region.

"Our crews are out there now clearing away that debris," he said.

"I just want to reassure the community there is a drainage maintenance program and we continue with that."

Tweed Shire Council's manager of roads and stormwater, Danny Rose, told the ABC the road closures so far were "all the usual suspects", comprising low-lying roads and causeways, including in the Dulguigan and Urliup areas.

He said the council is monitoring conditions across the shire. 


Original story: MORE than 250mm of rain has fallen in some parts of the Northern Rivers since 9am yesterday, with the Bureau of Meterology warning of "meoscale lows" and thunderstorms.

Rainfall totals (since 9am Thursday)

  • Byron Bay: 252mm
  • Coopers Shoot: 210mm
  • Myocum: 232mm
  • Ballina: 165mm
  • Alstonville: 167mm
  • Houghlahans Creek: 189mm
  • Lismore: 106mm
  • Evans Head: 186mm
  • Rappville: 62mm.

According to BoM, 115mm of rain fell in the two hours to 4.18am at Cape Byron (82mm of which fell in one hour), and 102mm was recorded in the two hours to 4.15am at Byron Bay (Tallow Creek Bridge).

A significant amount of rain fell at Binna Burra overnight.
A significant amount of rain fell at Binna Burra overnight.

Calls for help

Northern Rivers NSW SES said it had received several calls for assistance from local businesses in Byron Bay, with water entering shopfronts.

"Take care when travelling through the Byron CBD," the SES posted on its website.

"If it's flooded, forget it, road surfaces and could be deeper or faster-flowing than they look."

A Lennox Head resident said the heaviest rain seemed to arrive in three separate bursts, two late last night and another about 4.30am.

"It was cyclonic," she said.

NSW SES Superintendent and incident controller, Craig McIntyre, told ABC North Coast they had been called to around 140 jobs.

"There's been a couple of flood rescue jobs, there was one this morning at Byron Bay," he said.

"There's a little bit of localised flooding issues but that will dissipate as the rain eases.

"Take care if you're driving, please avoid driving through floodwaters, there may be damaged road surfaces and the water may be deeper or faster flowing than it looks."

Byron Bay has been lashed by heavy rain overnight.
Byron Bay has been lashed by heavy rain overnight. Liana Boss

Road closures

Lismore Road is closed in both directions between Binna Burra and Richmond Hill due to flooding.

The closure is between Binna Burra Road and Boatharbour Road.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area and use the Bruxner Highway or Pacific Highway instead. Bus services will also be affected in the area.

Motorists are urged to drive to the conditions and should not attempt to drive through floodwaters.

According to MyRoadInfo, the following roads are also closed or may be closed at short notice:

  • Friday Hut Road at Emigrant
  • Friday Hut Road at Kirklands Crossing
  • Ross Lane, Lennox Head
  • Myocum Road near James Lane
  • Whian Road Eureka
  • Roads near Beech Drive, Suffolk Park, including Broken Head Road, Silky Oak Crt, Carissa Crt, Pepperbush St and surrounds
  • Flooded near Uncle Toms, about six inches of water
  • Jonson St near The Northern Hotel
  • Lawson St: flooded, including parked cars and shops
  • Bayshore Drive, Byron Arts and Industrial Estate
  • Midgen Flat Rd, Broken Head.
  • Watson's Lane, Newrybar: road closed due to flooding at Emigrant Creek
  • Dalwood Rd at Gum Creek Weir, Rous: road closed due to flooding
  • Hogans Rd, Duroby: road closed due to flooding 200m south of Gumbleton Rd
  • Urliup Rd, west of Bilambil: road closed due to flooding 
  • Round Mountain Rd, Reserve Creek: road closed due to flooding 
  • Wyrallah Rd, near East Lismore Treatment Works: road closed due to flooding

Tweed Shire Council has been doing roadworks on Kyogle Rd near Riveroak Drive at Bray Park.

Yesterday's rain deteriorated the road surface which had become riddled with deep potholes.

The section of road has become slippery and motorists should exercise extreme caution.


Weather warning

In a severe weather warning issued just before 5am, BoM said the coastal trough near the northern New South Wales coast was bringing increased rainfall to the area.

"This trough is expected to deepen and gradually shift southwards, increasing rainfall along the central and southern parts of the coast and adjacent ranges during Friday and over the weekend," BoM explains on its website.

"For some areas, intense rainfall rates and gusty winds are possible with thunderstorm activity or with the formation of mesoscale lows embedded within the coastal trough."

Heavy rainfall may lead to flash flooding and riverine flooding today.

Conditions are expected to ease later today, but there will still be showers into the weekend.

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