Officials in Australia warned of “life threatening” flash floods as torrential rains batter parts of the country’s east coast.
Dozens of people have been rescued from floodwaters, and residents in many low-lying communities of New South Wales have been ordered to leave their homes.
Police say hundreds of people have flocked to evacuation centres in areas north of the city of Sydney.
Major roads have been shut.
Dams around Sydney are expected to overflow over the weekend, WaterNSW warns.
Up to 4 inches of rain forecast for Sydney, and as much as 12 inches for the lower Blue Mountains, west of the city.
“If you don’t need to travel, if you don’t need to head out today, this is the day to stay at home,” Agata Imielska from the Bureau of Meteorology was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.
More storms are forecast in the coming days, and parts of eastern Australia could receive up to a metre of rain in the space of just a week.
In recent years, climate change has been cited as a likely reason for a growing number of extreme weather events hitting the country.
Authorities in #Australia are warning of "life threatening" flash floods as torrential rains batter parts of the country's east coast.⛈️
— BBC Weather (@bbcweather) March 20, 2021
Bushfires then floods, couple to wed today loses their home to the swollen river … and the 1978 floods were on these exact dates 43 years ago, madness! #manningriver #australia #nsw #taree #midnorthcoast #floods #flooding #barringtoncoast #Photos pic.twitter.com/HqdhNjvLLj
— Melinda Healy (@MelindaHealy) March 20, 2021