December 15, 2020/Australia-
Australian authorities have issued evacuation warnings for low-lying towns in northern New South Wales (NSW) as storms batter the nation’s east coast.
On Tuesday, emergency officials said they had fielded about 150 calls for help in the past 24 hours.
Huge swells pummelled the coasts of NSW and south-east Queensland on Monday, causing major erosion.
An already depleted beach at Byron Bay – a popular holiday spot – had all but disappeared, locals said.
Authorities said the storm had moved south on Tuesday, bringing the threat of flooding to inland NSW.
They told communities around the Tweed River to evacuate on Tuesday, after it burst its banks. Some electricity, internet and other utility networks were also disrupted.
Meteorologists say the system has already released an amount of rain similar to a cyclone – about 1,000mm over four days.
Australia is currently experiencing a La Niña weather pattern, which typically brings more rainfall and tropical cyclones during the nation’s summer.
What’s the latest?
Heavy rain affected a 1,000km (620 miles) stretch of Australia’s east coast – including Brisbane and the Gold Coast – but was expected to ease late on Tuesday.
In one area, Upper Springbook in Queensland, close to a metre of rain had fallen since Saturday, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
The NSW State Emergency Service said it had carried out 12 flood rescues so far, warning people to stay indoors and avoid driving through floodwaters.
Some roads in the area between Tweed Heads and Taree were forced to close due to floods.
On Monday, authorities in Queensland warned that they had seen “abnormally high” tides up to 30cm higher than normal. All beaches in the area have been closed.
Officials also recorded 8m-high swells and gale force winds exceeding 104km/h (64 mph) at Byron Bay.
About 2,500 calls for emergency assistance have been made across the two states since Thursday, mostly for water damage to homes and for fallen trees and power poles.
There have been no confirmed reports of injuries or deaths, but authorities said they were investigating a man’s death in a car crash on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.