NSW death toll rises to five; more ‘high impact’ storms forecast for Queensland – as it happened

3d ago09:10

What we learned today, Wednesday 2 March

And with that, we are going to put this blog to bed. Thank you so much for going through the stories with us today.

Before we leave, let’s recap the big ones:

  • The flood death toll in New South Wales rose to five after two bodies were found in Lismore and one on the Central Coast
  • North Richmond, north-west of Sydney, was ordered to evacuate as authorities fear Redbank dam may fail
  • Annastacia Palaszczuk says there are more ‘high impact’ storms expected in Queensland, potentially leading to more flash flooding.
  • Ballina’s mayor Sharon Cadwallader says the shire is calling on the Australian Defence Forces for help, with the SES is struggling to stay in contact with people in need of rescue
  • A police officer is being hailed as a hero after he dived through a window to rescue a 93-year-old woman in her flooded Lismore home
  • It was revealed 145,000 disaster payment applications had already been made across NSW and Queensland
  • Victoria records 28 Covid-19 deaths, NSW reported five Covid-19 deaths, Tasmania records 868 new cases, ACT reported 1,053 new cases, WA recorded 1,780 new cases, SA recorded 2 deaths and 2075 cases, QLD records 24 deaths and 5,011 cases, and NT records 624 new cases.

Have a great evening, and for those in flood-impacted areas – stay safe and stay dry.

Updated at 09.20 GMT

3d ago09:10

Following the Prime Minister of Australia’s announcement that Australia will provide defensive military assistance to Ukraine, a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III departed RAAF Base Richmond for Europe on 2 March 2022, carrying critical military equipment and medical supplies.

Australia will join other allies and partners to help the people of Ukraine to defend their nation, following Russia’s senseless and illegal invasion of Ukraine sovereignty.

C-17A Globemaster III departing for UkraineC-17A Globemaster III departing for Ukraine Photograph: – Royal Australian Air Force flight for Ukraine3d ago08:51

This is a photo sent by Sam Magnusson showing the Hawkesbury River outside their property in Lower level Richmond. She says it is almost at capacity.

A photo sent by Sam MagnussonA photo sent by Sam Magnusson Photograph: Sam Magnusson3d ago08:42

We’ve got an update from the NSW SES North Coast incident controller.

Updated at 09.00 GMT

3d ago08:31

Peter Hannam

Flood coverage can involve a few moving targets.

One of them is how much Warragamba Dam will spill.

We were quick to report earlier today that Sydney’s main dam was spilling and that the spill rate could reach or even exceed the March 2021 flood levels.

Back then the rate was as much as 440-460 gigalitres a day (there’s a bit of disagreement). Well, as almost a throwaway line near the end of the NSW government press conference this evening to announce the evacuation, deputy premier Paul Toole tossed in the number of 600GL.

After a bit of scrambling, we’ve been able to confirm that the 600GL a day rate is the worst-case scenario. Let’s hope the flows fall far short of that.

If you can picture the size of Sydney Harbour, that’s about 500GL. A gigalitre is a billion litres.

Water spills over the Warragamba Dam in March 2021.Water spills over the Warragamba Dam in March 2021. Photograph: WATERNSW/PR IMAGE

Updated at 08.51 GMT

3d ago08:24

US president Joe Biden has thanked Australia for banding together with the free world to hold Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine, AAP reports.

In his first State of the Union address, Biden said Russian president Vladimir Putin is more isolated from the world than ever before due to the range of sanctions imposed by Western nations and blocs.

“The free world is holding him (Putin) accountable along with 27 members of the European Union … as well as countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand,” he said.

Biden said military, economic and humanitarian assistance would help Ukraine in its “fight for freedom”.

Thirty million barrels of oil from the US strategic reserve will also be released, as will a further 30 million from the reserves of around 30 countries around the world, Biden said.

Australia’s energy minister Angus Taylor confirmed Australia would support the action of the International Energy Agency to release oil stocks to stabilise global markets.

Updated at 08.39 GMT

3d ago08:16

Here is the full list of evacuation orders and warnings for the Sydney region:

  • Parts of North Richmond in Sydney’s northwest have been ordered to evacuate immediately, with the SES warning the nearby Redbank Dam is likely to fail.
  • Parts of Chipping Norton, Lansvale, Milperra and Picton, southwest of Sydney, have been warned to prepare to evacuate also.
  • Major flooding, similar to the 2021 floods, is expected along the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers, at Menangle, North Richmond, Penrith and Windsor.
  • Moderate flooding is also likely along the Georges River, at Liverpool and Milperra.

Evacuation orders and warnings in place for the NSW North Coast:

  • Evacuation orders have been issued for parts of Casino, Maclean, Woodburn, Ballina, Ballina Island, Lawrence, Lennox Head, Ulmara, Coraki, Wardell, Tweed Heads, Bellingen, Murwillumbah, Lismore, Kyogle, Tumbulgum and more.
  • Flood warnings have been issued for the Tweed, Wilson, Clarence, Bellinger and Hastings rivers.

Updated at 08.41 GMT

3d ago08:12

Updated at 08.40 GMT

3d ago08:03

Police officer dives through window to rescue 93-year-old Lismore woman

A police officer is being hailed as a hero after he dived through a window to rescue a 93-year-old woman in her flooded Lismore home.

The woman was found lying on a floating mattress just 20cm below from the roof.

Two NSW police officers and a team of SES volunteers were conducting search and rescue operations in the Lismore cbd cream on Monday when the rescue took place.

On Barnes Street, the officers heard a faint call for help from inside a home, with water up to the eaves of the house.

One of the senior constables dived through an open window and found the woman floating on a mattress, with no more than 20cm of room between the roof and the water level, NSW police said.

The woman was pulled from the home on a boogie board, through the open window and onto a waiting rescue boat.

The NSW police minister Paul Toole said this was just one example of the courage shown by police, emergency services and volunteers this week.

There are dozens of similar stories across all emergency services personnel working alongside members of the public to save lives.

This is the true meaning of community, and I am thankful to every police officer, every volunteer, every community member who has helped. There is no doubt in my mind that these acts of bravery have saved countless lives.

Updated at 08.18 GMT

3d ago07:54

Peter Hannam

NSW authorities have warned communities at risk of major flooding in the Sydney region to prepare to evacuate as the Hawkesbury-Nepean river continues to rise.

Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s main reservoir, was already spilling at a rate in excess of 70 gigalitres a day on Wednesday after torrential rainfall over its catchment exceeded earlier predictions, according to a NSW government official.

3d ago07:46

If you find an Eel and don’t kiss it you are a coward.

3d ago07:38

Australian authorities say they have rescued 51 children from harm during a global operation targeting the making and distribution of child abuse material.

More than 100 Australians are facing in excess of 1,000 child abuse charges as part of Operation Molto, which was coordinated nationally by the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation.

Updated at 07.42 GMT

3d ago07:24

‘Rain bomb’ causing floods is actually an atmospheric river, expert says

Politicians have enthusiastically embraced the term “rain bomb” to describe a weather system that has flooded parts of NSW and Queensland. But there’s no such thing, some experts say.

Meteorologists say it’s actually an atmospheric river that’s less like a bomb and more like a conveyor belt, delivering a relentless stream of moisture-laden air, AAP reports.

The west coasts of the US and Canada are frequently walloped by one dubbed the Pineapple Express, which transports moisture over 4,000km from around Hawaii.

“We don’t have any names for them here in Australia,” says Ben Domensino, a meteorologist from Weatherzone.

“But it’s common for these atmospheric rivers to affect eastern Australia.

“All an atmospheric river is, is a very long area of winds, blowing in the same direction over the ocean. It drags moisture thousands of kilometres. When those winds meet a landmass, the air rises and the moisture is converted into rainfall.”

In the case of the system swamping Australia’s east coast, the area of the ocean the winds are blowing over has extended up towards New Caledonia.

“These winds have been blowing across that stretch of ocean, and pushing moisture that evaporated from the ocean, towards Australia,” Domensino says.

People wade through a flooded street in Ballina today. The so-called ‘rain bomb’ behind the flooding across eastern Australia is actually more like a conveyor belt of moisture, an expert says.People wade through a flooded street in Ballina today. The so-called ‘rain bomb’ behind the flooding across eastern Australia is actually more like a conveyor belt of moisture, an expert says. Photograph: Natalie Grono/The Guardian

Updated at 07.28 GMT

3d ago07:093d ago06:55

SES commissioner warns of ‘significant flash flooding’ in Sydney

York:

I also must caution you that this is an intense rainfall, and we have seen record levels that we haven’t seen in recorded history.

So even though your (area) may not be mentioned in some of these alerts, just be aware that it may the waters may rise and be alert and be prepared.

But certainly in relation to that evacuation order near the Redbank dam. It is important that you leave that area and leave it now.

And those other areas it’s important that you are prepared – for the rest of the metropolitan area, very significant rainfalls, significant flash flooding and a danger if you are travelling around anywhere in the metropolitan area.

So be careful, make sensible decisions, don’t drive through flood waters and make sure that you and your family and friends remain safe.

There will be evacuation centres open and you can go there if you need temporary assistance where there are people there ready to help you. But again, make sensible decisions and be careful and make sure you remain safe.

A flooded street in Penrith, west of Sydney. More severe weather and heavy rain is predicted to hit Sydney today and tomorrow.A flooded street in Penrith, west of Sydney. More severe weather and heavy rain is predicted to hit Sydney today and tomorrow. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Updated at 07.07 GMT

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