For the second time this month, heavy rains pounded down Australia’s east coast, forcing thousands of flood-weary locals to flee their homes as authorities warned the powerful weather system would likely last for the next 24 hours.
After devastating floods earlier this month killed at least 21 people and swept away hundreds of farms, houses, and cattle, several communities in northern New South Wales and southeast Queensland were still trying to collect tonnes of wreckage.
In the midst of the recovery efforts, the Bureau of Meteorology issued a warning on Tuesday of possibly life-threatening flash floods throughout the northern New South Wales coast, spanning more than 500 kilometres (311 miles). The meteorological agency said that isolated rainfall of up to 300 mm (12 inches) might fall in some areas over the next six hours.
The current low-pressure system may be less severe than the previous one, but the already-soaked land from weeks of nonstop rains may cause river levels to surge suddenly.
For the second year in a row, Australia’s east coast summer has been dominated by the La Nina weather pattern, which is normally associated with increasing rainfall, with several rivers already nearing capacity before the latest downpour.
Residents in low-lying regions of Lismore, in northern New South Wales, were urged to leave their homes on Monday night after the town was listed among the worst impacted areas by record floods a month ago.
On Tuesday, Lismore mayor Steve Krieg told Channel Nine news, ‘We are very much in the hands of the Gods today. If the forecasted rains materialise, the river could swell substantially.’