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Hobart weather: Record rain, flash flooding inundate CBD and parts of southern Tasmania

Friday May 11, 2018 - 12:40 EST
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Flash floods tear through Hobart after record rain - ABC

Cars have floated down Hobart CBD streets and homes and businesses were evacuated as flash flooding hit the city following record rainfall overnight.

Hobart city recorded more than 100 millimetres of rain in a single day for the first time ever in May — doubling the previous record.

It is understood to be only the fifth time since 1893 that the city has recorded more than 100mm in a day in any month with the State Emergency Service describing it as "an extreme weather event".

Hobart resident Monte Bovill said the streets of the city were like rivers.

"Macquarie Street, which is the main street in Hobart, had probably two dozen cars just lying there on the road, that had been swept down," he said.

"It was really crazy to see what used to be a road was literally a river."

All southern campuses of the University of Tasmania (UTAS) have been closed because of flooding.

UTAS spokesman Jason Purdie said the campus was a no-go zone.

"We have had buildings been inundated and the vision is pretty dramatic," Mr Purdy said.

"The other thing is parts of the suburb, including our campus are without power."

UTAS students posted videos earlier today of a tide of water engulfing the corridors of the science block.

Mr Bovill, a student at the University of Tasmania, was on campus when the flooding happened.

"A lot of people had to be evacuated and I know that a number of rooms have been flooded. It just seems so eerie at the campus.

"All the alarms were going off. All the doors were open, but there was [no-one] around, just rushing water just coming down into the buildings.

Heavy rains had focused on the state's east coast yesterday, but by 8:30pm a violent storm hit Hobart and the south of the state.

Lightning storms sat above the city for most of the night and strong winds roared across the south of the island.

The rain fell heavily and flooding hit the city centre — turning Campbell Street in the CBD into a river.

Parts of Salamanca, South Hobart, Sandy Bay, New Town, Blackmans Bay and Kingston were awash.

Royal Hobart Hospital open despite flood damage

Tasmania's Royal Hobart Hospital has been damaged by leaks and flooding but is open, according to a health spokesman.

Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Michael Pervan said the emergency department was unaffected by storm water and emergency services were being maintained.

"None of the areas that have patients in them were inundated … there were some leaks and some water came through into areas like the [intensive care unit] and paediatric medicine day surgery has had some major leaks in it."

He said they had since been cleared of flood waters and no patients needed to be moved or relocated.

All elective surgery is continuing at the hospital as scheduled, and a spokeswoman for the hospital said all day surgery was also continuing as planned.

She said anyone who had an outpatient appointment would be contacted if their appointment had been cancelled, and anyone who could not get to the hospital today would have their appointment rescheduled.

Tasmania's water and sewage authority TasWater is reportedly receiving a high volume of calls to its call centre.

A spokesman said crews were only able to deal with the most urgent cases and reminded the public that flood waters may contain sewage and to avoid contact.

A spokesman for Hobart Airport said flights were operating, although there had been some delays due to ground staff being unable to get to work.

SBS and WIN television networks are off air after a lightning strike on Mount Wellington overnight, but ABC TV has resumed transmissions.

It is understood crews are having difficulty accessing the summit to make repairs because of heavy snow falls.

Severe weather to continue throughout day

The wild weather is not expected to start easing any time soon, with more rain across the eastern half of the state expected.

More than 100 millimetres of rain fell in the south-eastern towns of Buckland and Nugent last night, while about 90 millimetres has been recorded on Maria Island and at Triabunna.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said the rainfall that battered Tasmania's south and south-east overnight was now moving east.

Forecaster Matthew Thomas said the focus was now shifting to the east coast.

"Since 9:00am the rainfall totals have eased back, but it is still raining," he said.

"Its started raining quite impressively on the central east coast and the north-east coast.

"We've got minor flooding on the Huon River at Judbury and that's expected to extend down to Huonville this afternoon."

Mount Wellington reported its highest rainfall of 236mm until 12:00pm, which BOM said was the highest it has ever had.

"Hobart has reported 128mm. A third of that fell in one hour last night between 10:00pm and 11:00pm, so that smashed the May record which was only 47mm," said fellow forecaster Debbie Tabor.

"It hasn't been as high as that since 1960."

The extreme weather is expected to ease this evening.

Police have urged people to be prepared and avoid unnecessary travel.

Inspector Ian Mathewson said the storm is predicted to continue until at least lunchtime today and flash flooding will be a risk for motorists.

"With the morning traffic coming in from the northern suburbs and southern outlet and also over the bridge, it's going to cause some significant congestion which will make it difficult for emergency vehicles to respond and will also prolong services [trying to] clear those roads from debris and flood waters," he said.

TasNetworks reported that as at 8.30am.

Power to the Sandy Bay and Kingston areas in Hobart were affected after a substation was flooded, TasNetwork's Josh Bradshaw said.

"When in doubt, don't touch anything. Call either TasNetworks or the SES," he said.

"We have mobilised emergency crews so we're throwing all we can at this

"But obviously safety of our crews is the most important thing and safety of the public so the conditions at the moment are making it very difficult."

Police warn against driving through floods

Police are urging motorists not to drive through flood waters as the risk of being washed away is too great.

Emergency services have received hundreds of calls for assistance.

SES said crews were triaging calls and responding to the most urgent first with crews continuing to work through requests for assistance.

Roads in the greater Hobart region were partially closed overnight due to earth slips, with crews clearing rocks and dirt from carriageways.

Evacuation centres have been established at Mathers House at 180 Bathurst Street (next to the State Library) and in Kingston at 99 Beach Road (behind Raine and Horne Real Estate) for people requiring information support or shelter.

For emergency assistance, people in affected areas should contact State Emergency Services on 132500.


© ABC 2018

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