Qld and the NSW coast are bracing for heavy rain and wind as wild weather sweeps across the region.
BRISBANE has copped a battering from wild weather and meteorologists say the massive storm system is moving south.
Beaches along the coast are closed as huge waves make entering the water a dangerous prospect. The state’s capital city is flooding and the main highway north — the Bruce Highway — was cut off completely at 10am.
Two people died on wet roads when a minivan collided with a truck in North Ipswich. Police say both occupants of the minivan, a man and a woman, were killed. They are investigating what role the weather played in the crash.
Elsewhere, a woman had to be rescued from the roof of her car after it was swept off the Capricorn Highway.
Complicating matters further, a king tide is expected on Saturday night. It will create huge swells and the potential for significant coastal erosion.
The storm is being treated as the most dangerous weather event since three people including an eight-year-old boy died in May last year. It’s impacting most of Queensland’s southeast and, further south, threatening to cause chaos along the NSW coast.
To put this storm in context, it stretches more than 2000km and the entire NSW coast has been put on flood watch. Meteorologists believe it’s the first mass warning of its kind in 30 years.
Rainfall records are not only being eclipsed, they’re being blown out of the water. In Coonamble, in northern NSW, the previous rainfall record for June was 57mm. Today, the country town recorded 93mm.
The Gold Coast is right in the storm’s path and will receive strong winds and heavy rainfall for much of Saturday evening.
The weather, created by an east coast low, is expected to smash both states all weekend before travelling south through Victoria and over Tasmania. Victoria is already on flood watch.
Southern Queensland and parts of New South Whales bracing for powerful storm cell this weekend.
A severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Ipswich, Logan, Scenic Rim, Brisbane City, Moreton Bay and parts of the Somerset, Lockyer Valley, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast areas on Saturday morning.
The same warnings were issued for Albert, Gold Coast rivers and creeks, the Upper Condamine and the Border Rivers on Saturday afternoon.
The bureau said it was likely “intense rainfall would lead to flash flooding” in those areas. Pictures on social media confirm the risk, showing cars being down flooded streets.
Across large parts of south east Queensland, sand bags are being piled up in front of homes and businesses to protect them from the worst of the damage.
The State Emergency Service is doing more than its share to keep homes and businesses dry. They’d received more than 500 calls for help by midday.
Massive seas developing with the #EastCoastLow. Keep up to date with our marine forecasts at https://t.co/4wmBXaYLX8 pic.twitter.com/QwOKNt6ger
— BOM Australia (@BOM_au) June 3, 2016
The BoM knew the storm was coming but its severity appears to have caught even forecasters off guard. The Bureau said the system was originally expected to arrive on Saturday afternoon but formed faster than many thought it would.
BoM senior meteorologist Adam Morgan says it’s unusual to see an east coast low track southward.
“We’ve got forecasters in NSW that can’t remember in 30 years having a flood watch out for the entire NSW coast,” he said.
“Everywhere is a bit of a risk, but probably the far north and the far south coasts tomorrow in terms of rain are the bigger risks for those higher-end falls,” Mr Morgan said.
The Queensland State Emergency Service’s Kevin Walsh had a message for people living in communities expected to be worst hit.
“It’s probably best to stay home … it’s probably safest,” he told Sky News on Saturday morning.
He said the storm would likely move through Brisbane by 2pm and hang around over the Gold Coast for much of the evening.
Sydney has taken a lashing from heavy rains, too. The wild weather caused delays on the roads mid morning, including in an out of Sydney airport, but conditions had eased by midday.
Well, this is just madness. #sydneystorm pic.twitter.com/hWOwb184Vh
— Wenlei Ma (@WenleiMa) June 3, 2016
The SES has also advised people to protect their family and property by staying indoors during the wild weather.
“Our volunteers can give safety advice, place tarpaulins on damaged roofs, and remove fallen trees and branches from buildings, road or property. As well as rescue people trapped or injured by storm activity,” the SES said.
In NSW alone, where the storm is yet to do its worst damage, the SES has already been called out to more than 300 jobs. More than 2000 properties on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts were without power.
Fire and Emergency Services deputy commissioner Mark Roche issued a firm warning for people to remain safe during the weather events.
“We would like to see people on Monday morning at work talking about the rain, not necessarily talking about loved ones who may have lost their lives,” he toldThe Courier Mail.
“The reality is that over half of the people that lose their lives in floods lose their lives because they drive through flood water.”
Authorities issued a statement shortly before 2pm saying they were happy with the public’s response.
QLD Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Peter Fleming said the accident at North Ipswich highlights the importance of taking extra care.
“It just brings home to all of us the need to make sure we drive to the conditions, and that any fatality on our roads is an absolute tragedy,” he said.
“You continually need to re-assess your road travel and particularly now the winds are on the coastline, any boating or surf-related activities.”
The wild weather follows the warmest autumn ever recorded, with the mean temperature between March and the end of May hitting an average of 23.86C.
More information for how to prepare for a storm is available here.
The weather is changing so fast that the new extremes being felt around the world might actually threaten human civilisation itself. Welcome to the new terrifying world of global weirding.