A number of Upper Western, North-West and Central-West towns have been told to brace for heavy rain and possible riverine flooding later Monday and on Tuesday, with some western catchments set to overflow.
It's possible up to 100mm could fall in the next 24 hours in areas from Cobar to Coonamble and stretching south to Dubbo as moist tropical air and an inland trough drifts down from the north-west, meeting up with a rain system that has already sent a deluge on to the NSW coast.
Already almost 100mm had fallen in just 12 hours at the far outback town of Tibooburra by noon Monday. Its long-term average for March is just 22mm.
The Tuesday morning total was 144mm over the past two days.
Meantime, the Insurance Council of Australia has declared the rain event in NSW a "catastrophe".
A severe weather warning has been issued by the Bureau of Meteorology for "heavy rain, likely leading to flash flooding, to develop in parts of the Upper Western, Central Tablelands, North West Slopes and Plains, and Central West Slopes and Plains forecast districts from this morning (Monday), becoming more likely in the afternoon and evening. There is an enhanced risk with any thunderstorm activity."
Already some central-west and north-west towns have received close to 100mm in the last week.
Weatherzone says areas such as Cobar could see 25mm to 50mm today, and the same tomorrow. Bourke which has already recorded 30mm in the last 24 hours to 9am Monday, could see the same amount of rain. Some places such as Coonamble have already had more than 80mm in the last week.
Weatherzone forecaster Esteban Abellan said a trough would move through inland NSW on Monday, bringing significant falls for anywhere north of Condobolin. Many northern centres will see 50-80mm, wth localised heavy falls. Falls in southern NSW will about 25mm.
We could see some places on the coast with over 1000mm of rain by the end of this episode.
The BOM warned for riverine flooding. "widespread rainfall may lead to riverine flooding and a flood watch is current for catchments on the western slopes."
"Locations which may be affected include Lismore, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Katoomba, Tamworth, Dubbo, Tibooburra, Cobar and Bourke."
Parts of the mid-NSW North Coast is set for another round of drenching and major flooding as the system reintensifies. Thousands of people in that area have been evacuated and many have lost everything including stock.
Already many records have been broken. Wingham had its wettest three days since 1967 of 324mm, Port Macquarie saw 320mm, it's wettest three days in 8 years and at Seaview 600mm was recorded.
Mr Abellan said it was possible by the end of this rain event some areas on the North Coast will have received over 1000mm - a metre of rain. "That is quite incredible", he said.
To add to the misery of people in flood zones who have been forced to evacuate, another 150-200mm may fall on those critical areas such as the Hastings and Manning rivers at Kempsey and Port Macquarie in the next two days. Kempsey may even see its flood levee overrun by floodwaters.
Flooding is also extensive in the Nepean-Hawkesbury area and Windsor has been cut off, with the Windsor bridge flooded over. Hundreds of people have been evacuated in the Sydney basin as Warragamba Dam continues to spill massive amounts of water.
A total of 18,000 people have been evacuated from floods in NSW, with 38 natural disaster areas declared. About 15,000 people have been evacuated from around Port Macquarie, Taree and Kempsey and 3000 people in western Sydney.
The NSW Government has issued a total of 34 (plus extra four this morning) Natural Disaster Declarations over the last 48 hours to ensure immediate support reaches communities across the State affected by the floods and storms.
Disaster declarations have been issued for the following Local Government Areas in collaboration with the Commonwealth: Armidale, Bellingen, Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Canterbury Bankstown, Central Coast, Cessnock City, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour City, Cumberland, Dungog, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Hornsby, Inner West, Kempsey, Ku-ring-gai, Lake Macquarie, Liverpool, Maitland City, Mid-Coast, Nambucca Valley, Newcastle City, Northern Beaches, Parramatta, Penrith, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Port Stephens, Sutherland, Tenterfield Blacktown, The Hills and Wollondilly.
The assistance now available is one of a series of funding packages that will be triggered by the Government as the impacts of the floods are assessed:
* help for eligible people whose homes or belongings have been damaged;
- support for affected local councils to help with the costs of cleaning up and restoring damaged essential public assets;
.* concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations;
*. freight subsidies for primary producers, and . grants to eligible non-profit organisations.
The rain event is likely to clear on Wednesday.
Meantime the Insurance Council of Australia has declared the rain event a catastrophe.
The ICA's Catastrophe Declaration serves to escalate and prioritise the insurance industry's response for affected policyholders.
Under the Catastrophe declaration:
. Claims from affected policyholders will be given priority by insurers
. Claims will be triaged to direct urgent assistance to the worst-affected property owners
The ICA's disaster hotline has been activated - 1800 734 621 - to assist policyholders if they are uncertain of their insurance details or have general inquiries about the claims process. (Please note: this is not a claims lodgement service.), it said ina statement.
" ICA representatives will be mobilised to work with local agencies and services and affected policyholders as soon as emergency services say it is safe to do so. Insurers will mobilise disaster response specialists to assist affected customers with claims and assessments as soon as emergency services say it is safe to do so.
"An industry taskforce has been established to identify and address issues arising from this catastrophe. Insurers will continue to monitor the situation in south-east Queensland to determine if a Catastrophe Declaration is required for that area.
Andrew Hall, CEO, Insurance Council of Australia said: "It's too early to understand the extent of the damage to property in affected areas and to estimate the insurance damage bill, however insurers have received over 5,000 claims in the past few days.
"The insurance industry has made this Catastrophe Declaration to activate services and support for affected homeowners and businesses and reassure them that their insurer is there to help.
"As many areas are currently inaccessible due to floodwater, insurers are expecting further claims in coming days as emergency services allow residents to return to their properties to examine the extent of their damage and losses."
Meantime NSW Farmers has lauched a flood appeal through its Natural Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) to assist farmers with recovery efforts as a one-in -a-hundred year weather event continues to batter the east coast region.
NSW Farmers' members reported unprecedented flood events over the weekend, particularly in the mid north coast region, and are expecting significant damage to crops, pastures, infrastructure and oyster leases and livestock losses.
NSW Farmers' CEO Pete Arkle said heavy rainfall is also forecast for the North-West and Western NSW this week.
"The Bureau of Meteorology have contacted NSW Farmers warning of a forecast system moving through Central Australia and into NSW may cause localised flooding, particularly in where soil profiles are near full," Mr Arkle said.
"The extent of flood damage won't be known for some time but we want to make sure we're doing everything we can to assist farmers to recover from the extensive damage."
"Today we have launched our flood appeal through our natural disaster fund."
"The Fund provides financial assistance, goods or services, to primary producers adversely affected by flooding to ensure that they can continue to operate their farms whilst they are dealing with or recovering from the Natural Disaster."
For more information or to donate, please visit www.nswfarmers.org.au/donate.
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