Newcastle:Warnings of heavy rain and flash flooding across Hunter as low pressure system forms

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UPDATE, 9pm: THE Hunter has been hit by a 24 hour deluge that saw hundreds of millimetres of rain cause flooding from Wallsend to Bulahdelah.

Emergency service volunteers worked into the wee hours of Wednesday morning responding to hundreds of calls for assistance from Hunter residents caught up in sometimes frightening weather conditions.

Eight properties in Dungog were evacuated as the Bureau of Meteorology predicted minor flooding of the Williams River, and the Chichester Dam began to spill.

In Newcastle two people were rescued from a car by fire crews in Tighes Hill, and dozens of roads were closed due to flooding, including Industrial Drive at Mayfield, and University Drive at Waratah, where two cars were briefly underwater.

Between 30 and 60 millimetres of rain fell on parts of the city in less than half an hour on Tuesday afternoon, and 2200 homes lost power in Mayfield and Waratah.

In Wallsend, where the flash flooding was at its worst, Newcastle City Council send out evacuation alerts to residents warning of imminent flash flooding.

A number of low-lying streets in that suburb, including Nelson Street, were closed.

Cars were submerged on Maryland Drive, cricket grounds and skate parks inundated, and drains were transformed into rushing torrents of water.

State Emergency Services spokesman Phil Campbell said on Tuesday night that the majority of call outs had been for minor issues leak leaking roofs.

However, the Bureau of Meteorology flagged falls of as much as 200 millimetres of rain in some localised areas, as well as the potential for an east coast low pressure system to form off the coast, meaning conditions could worsen in the early hours of Wednesday.

Further north, heavy rain fell for most of the day in parts of the Myall Lakes and at Buladelah, where the main road had to be closed after more than 200 millimetres of rain fell in a 24 hour period.

Anthony Dorney lives on Markwell Road just north of Bulahdelah. He was up at 4am on Tuesday moving their cattle and horses to higher ground.

“I was wading through water about waist deep at 4am to get to them,” he said. “The paddocks they were in are under water now.”

A number of severe weather warnings and flood alerts remained in place overnight, with moderate flooding expected in the Hunter River at Bulga, and minor flooding of the Williams River at Dungog.

Two campers had to be rescued in the Myall Lakes, and five people clambered out of a car after it became stuck in about one metre of water at Pokolbin.

UPDATE, 7.30pm: THE State Emergency Service is responding to more than 200 calls for assistance across the lower Hunter on Tuesday night.
There were reports of flash flooding at a number of locations across Newcastle, with a number of roads inundated.

The majority of calls for assistance so far were in the lower Hunter in Newcastle and Maitland, the majority for minor roof leaks.

The Bureau of Meterology said that an average of 60 millimetres of rain has fallen in the past 24 hours to 6pm on Tuesday, with more forecast rain expected to cause minor flooding at Dungog and Mill Dam Falls later on Tuesday.

The Bureau said it was not possible to predict the flood peak because of uncertainty over how much more rain will fall.

However Dungog is expected to exceed the minor flood level of 4.9 metres at about 11pm on Tuesday, and Mill Dam Falls is expected to exceed the minor flood level of 6.1 metres at about 9am on Wednesday.

Phil Campbell from the State Emergency Services said the conditions were “no-where near” the April storms that swept through the Hunter, but predicted isolated rain falls of about 200 millimetres in some localised areas “could cause some issues”.

He said specialist crews had been placed at some areas including Dungog, and extra volunteers had been called in from Sydney.

While the majority of calls for assistance were for minor issues, there have been some rescues required.

Two campers were rescued by the State Emergency Services from a site at Myall Lakes, while at Tighes Hill firefighters reportedly rescued two people from a car caught in floodwater.
UPDATE, 6pm: TORRENTIAL rain has soaked parts of Newcastle on Tuesday afternoon, with some areas receiving between 30 and 60 millimetres in less than an hour.

There are currently flood warnings in place for Bulahdelah – where the main street is closed – and parts of the Hunter River near Bulga, while the Bureau of Meterology has also issued a flood watch for large swathes of the Hunter including Lake Macquarie and the Newcastle CBD.
Humid easterly winds are feeding into a trough on the NSW coast, generating widespread rain.
A small low pressure centre may form within the trough, most likely off the Hunter or Mid North Coast.

Widespread rain totals of 30 to 60 mm are likely during this time, and isolated falls of 200 mm are possible.

About 194 millimetres of rain fell on Bulahdelah between 9am on Monday and 9am on Tuesday.

Another 69 millimetres fell between 9am and 5pm.

Upper Chichester near Barrington Tops received 155 millimetres in that time, and Bungwahl copped 135 millimetres.

Closer to town the northern parts of Newcastle were the worst affected – with Wallsend among the worst, receiving 57 millimetres between 9am and 5pm.

The Bureau issued a flood warning for the Hunter River after as much as 105 millimetres of rain fell in the Wollombi Brook catchment area in the 24 hours to 4pm on Tuesday.
That’s expected to cause moderate flood levels of 3.7 metres in Bulga at about 8pm.
Further rain is likely, potential leading to high flood water levels.

The Bureau says that Singleton, Maitland and Raymond Terrace are likely to stay below the minor flood level.

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