Heavy rain has drenched large swathes of eastern New South Wales and south-east Queensland, forcing road closures and sparking concerns about the risk of flash flooding.
On Friday morning the Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning that stretched along the coast from the south of Wollongong up to Lismore in the north.
Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle, where torrential rain fell on Friday morning, could all be affected by flooding, the bureau said.
Senior bureau meteorologist Dean Sgarbossa said on Friday morning there had been significant rainfall across northern NSW and south-east Queensland.
Byron Bay recorded the biggest fall since 9am on Thursday with 281mm, Sgarbossa told Radio National. Most areas from the Central Coast of NSW up to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland had seen consistent falls of between 20mm and 50mm, he said.
Inland areas that had been suffering from drought had also seen decent falls. But Sgarbossa said there was a danger that a low-pressure system could develop within a broader coastal trough, “and that can concentrate quite intense rainfall that can lead to flash flooding, water over roads and even riverine flooding”.
The road to the Jenolan Caves, south-west of Katoomba, was closed due to fears the heavy rain could cause landslides.
“There are also a significant number of loose rock fragments which have an increased likelihood of rolling down the slope and on to the road,” a Transport for NSW spokesman said.
“Given current weather forecasts are predicting heavy and prolonged rainfall in the area over the coming days – the first in the area since the bushfires – it is essential for safety reasons that the road is closed until it can be assessed safe for traffic.”
The executive director of NSW Maritime, Mark Hutchings, said conditions were also dangerous out at sea.
“Skippers and owners of small boats should be on high alert and check the conditions before considering crossing a coastal bar or heading offshore,” he said.
The NSW Rural Fire Service said the heavy rain was welcome in bushfire-ravaged parts of the state.
“We were over the moon to see rain arrive across many parts of NSW, with decent falls in the state’s north,” the RFS said on Thursday night.
The heaviest falls have so far been on the north coast, with a number of areas recording more than 200mm by Friday morning.
South-east Queensland also had heavy falls on Thursday night, with the BoM issuing flood warnings for the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
The deluge is threatening a number of sporting events at the weekend, above all the Big Bash League final, scheduled for the SCG on Saturday night.
The Melbourne Stars won through to their third final after downing the Sydney Thunder by 28 runs in Thursday night’s preliminary final. But forecasters are predicting up to 90mm of rain in Sydney on Saturday alone, and a minimum of five overs a team is required to constitute a completed Twenty20 match.
The Sixers, having earned hosting rights, will be awarded the title if there is no result. No spare day has been allocated in case of rain.
The bushfire relief charity game, which had been scheduled as a curtain-raiser to the BBL final, has been moved to Melbourne’s Junction Oval on Sunday, and has lost a number of stars who had committed to play.