Parts of state brace for hail, flash flooding amid severe thunderstorms

Date: 2022-01-05 06:32:12

Other footage on social media showed a young man trying to empty a bin filled with rainwater as cars drove past inundated shopfronts.

State Emergency Services crews reported seeing people with water up to their knees inside their homes in Creswick and elderly residents trapped in floodwaters inside their cars.

An SES spokeswoman said the service had received almost 360 calls for help in the 24 hours to 7.30pm on Wednesday. Most were calls for assistance because of flooding, fallen trees and building damage in Ballarat.

She said crews were bracing for a busy night ahead, as the front inched closer to Melbourne.

Emergency services urged people to stay away from floodwater and move to a higher point such as a kitchen bench or second storey if the water entered their home.

“Contact family members and neighbours to ensure they are aware of the situation, if safe to do so,” authorities said.

At 6.50pm, electricity provider Powercor’s live outage map showed more than 30,000 homes off the grid in western Victoria, but by 7.15 pm that number had been revised down to 5500.

The weather pattern is the result of tropical moisture extending south from the Coral Sea colliding with an upper trough travelling across eastern Australia and has the potential to lead to severe thunderstorms.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for central, eastern and western Victoria, warning the thunderstorms could cause damage in Seymour, Maryborough, Castlemaine, Kyneton, Ballarat, and Bacchus Marsh.

Other locations likely to be impacted by water surges in coming hours are Shepparton, Wodonga, Wangaratta, Bright and Falls Creek.

A watch and act flash flood warning is in place for Ballarat and surrounding areas, including Miners Rest, Wendouree, Invermay, Bald Hills, Creswick, Sulky, Ascot, Cabbage Tree and Springmount, urging residents to stay indoors.

Damaging winds with gusts of up to 90km/h are also forecast to develop in parts of the central Victorian coastline on Wednesday evening, before easing in the early hours of Thursday.

Locations in the warning area include Apollo Bay, the Surf Coast, Rosebud, Phillip Island and Tidal River.

The wet weather is forecast to extend into the weekend, with the bureau predicting rainfall of between 10 millimetres and 50 millimetres in most parts of the state on Thursday increasing to about 100 millimetres south of Wodonga on Saturday.

Fruit growers across Victoria have been warned the wet weather and high humidity on Wednesday and Thursday could lead to a heavy outbreak of brown rot, a fungal disease affecting peach, plum, cherry, apricot and nectarine trees.

Victoria’s State Emergency Service is urging people to refrain from driving if road conditions are dangerous and to pull away from trees, drains, floodwater and low-lying areas if already on the road. Heavy rainfall could also increase the potential for landslides and debris across roads.

Residents in affected areas should tie down loose items such as outdoor settings, umbrellas, and trampolines, and move cars and other vehicles undercover and away from trees.

People outdoors should steer clear of power lines, trees, gutters and drains, and move into a safe indoor location away from windows.

Bureau meteorologist Jonathan How said the wet weather would extend to NSW, Tasmania and the ACT and likely lead to further warnings later in the week.

“Shower and storm activity will increase on Wednesday mostly through central Victoria and southern NSW,” he said.

“Heavy rain, damaging winds, and hail are all risks, including for Melbourne.”

Mr How said the weather pattern would move towards eastern Victoria and NSW over the weekend, impacting Sydney and Canberra and bringing an increased flood risk to saturated catchments.

People in a life-threatening situation should call 000. Those in need of emergency assistance should contact SES on 132 500.

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