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Big rain, wind and surf heading south in NSW

Brett Dutschke, Saturday February 23, 2013 - 13:54 EDT

Heavy rain, strong winds and large waves have been hitting the north coast of New South Wales hard but now the focus is shifting further south.

In the 24 hours to 9am Saturday rain has been as heavy as 415mm at Mount Seaview, inland from Port Macquarie, which is the heaviest downpour in 53 years. Further north in Dorrigo, on the Bellinger River and just inland of Coffs Harbour, a hefty 332mm was their heaviest rain in at least 15 years.

Wind has been as strong as 126km/h at Cape Byron, near Byron Bay on Friday. Sydney suburbs were lashed with winds strong enough to bring down branches, with they city withstanding a gust of 74 kn/w. Waves have exceeded 12 metres off the coast of Bryon Bay and Coffs Harbour.

Rainfall, wind and waves this high are typical of a category one cyclone.

Between Lismore and Forster rain has brought widespread falls of 100-to-200mm, wind has generally gusted 70-90km/h and waves have averaged about four-to-five metres.

As a result, major flooding has affected some rivers and the surrounding areas, trees have come down, roofs torn off and beaches have suffered significant erosion.

It is the second time in less than four weeks that the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast have been hit by big rain, wind and seas.

The region suffered a similar pounding when the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Oswald travelled all the way from north Queensland at the end of January.

The intense low pressure system responsible for the recent pounding is tracking southwest, taking some of the wild weather south along the coast and also inland.

By lunchtime Saturday, Sydney had received 20mm of rain at Observatory Hill from the system. Further north and south, Newcastle and Wollongong had both registered almost 40mm.

Widespread falls of 50-to-100mm of rain are likely with in excess of 100mm possible, most likely in the Upper Hunter, western Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Illawarra Escarpment.

Saturday will be very wet in Sydney and the Illawarra, but will start to ease in the Hunter.

For western NSW, rain and wind won't be nearly as intense as near the coast but it will be widespread across the Northwest Slopes and Plains, where some parts could gain more than 20mm.

By the time the low weakens into a trough early on Sunday morning, rain and wind will have eased significantly and waves will be gradually easing.

This won't be the end of it regarding rainfall. The atmosphere will still be fairly humid and unstable. Low pressure troughs and moist northeasterly winds will generate showers and thunderstorms each days for the next week, mainly about the slopes, ranges and coast.

This follow-up rain will cause aggravation for some of these areas, most likely on the north coast, where the heaviest falls should again occur.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2013

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