Violent gusts have brought down trees and power lines as rainstorms continue to lash southeast Australia with the states of Victoria, Tasmania and southern New South Wales braced for flooding, meteorologists and government officials said.
Hundreds of homes across Victoria were left without power on Thursday and residents of Tasmania were notified of a severe weather warning for the north and west of the island state where heavy rainfall swelled rivers and emergency services warned of flash flooding.
“Locally intense rainfall which may lead to dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding is also likely over inland parts of northwest Tasmania,” State Emergency Service Acting Director Leon Smith said in a statement.
“Trees are likely to come down as a result of the forecast for damaging winds, adding to the treacherous conditions,” Smith said, noting that the severe weather front is expected to affect the state until Friday morning.
Tasmania’s acting Premier Michael Ferguson said on Thursday that three evacuation centres had been opened and additional centres would be added if required.
“This weather event is significant, and we can expect that other areas may be impacted by flooding and emergency warnings over the coming hours and days,” he said.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said that rivers have swollen due to the intense rains and water levels are expected to rise further as the rains continue.
“Multiple minor to major flood warnings have been issued,” the bureau’s Jonathan How said in a broadcast.
In the past 24 hours to 9am local time (10pm GMT) on Thursday, northern Victoria experienced rainfall in excess of 120mm (4.7 inches) and northern Tasmania experienced more than 180mm (7 inches) of rainfall.
Parts of Tasmania could see up to 300mm (almost 12 inches) of rain up to Friday, according to reports.
Describing the weather situation as “dynamic,” How said the rainstorms were expected to clear by late Friday and Saturday but the “flooding impacts are likely to last well into next week”.
Severe Weather Update: Heavy rain continues for Vic, Tas, southern NSW, moderate, major flooding expected. Video current: 12:30pm AEDT 13 October 2022.
— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) October 13, 2022
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the weather system was “one of the most significant flood events we’ve had for quite some time”.