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Broken Hill cops a drenching with half of all last year's rainfall falling in just 20 minutes

By Bindi Bryce and Declan Gooch, Saturday September 19, 2020 - 18:56 EST
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The SES responded to over 100 calls for assistance, three flood rescues, and sandbag requests. - ABC

Dry outback towns in the New South Wales far west have been drenched with their heaviest rainfalls in recent years including Broken Hill, hit with unusual flash flooding.

The mining town received just over 30 millimetres of rain during a thunderstorm this afternoon — about half what it received in all of last year.

Streets were turned into rivers and locals have been warned to avoid floodwaters.

Jake Phillips from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said it was a huge and fast downpour for the town.

"That rainfall at Broken Hill is quite notable because a large amount of it fell in the space of about 15 or 20 minutes," he said.

"As a result it's caused quite a few problems with localised flooding."

Broken Hill cafe owner Susan Stephens said the rain arrived during the lunchtime rush.

"We were really, really busy and then it came down and all of a sudden. We had water coming in from the ceiling," she said.

Ben Victory, who runs an office supplies and printing business, said flooding at his business had caused thousands of dollars of damage to stock.

But he was conscious of the benefits the rain would bring.

"If we're not complaining about this we'd be complaining about dust storms," he said.

Broken Hill fire station officer Don Peters said his firefighters had responded to about six callouts by early afternoon while also dealing with flooding at the fire station itself.

"I've been here five and a half years and I've never seen rain like this before," he said.

"It makes it quite exciting for us. We don't mind doing it, we enjoy it."

The deluge is expected to help flows along the Darling River and into Menindee Lakes, one of the region's most popular tourist attractions.

Tibooburra, in the state's north-west corner, also received 43mm of rain.

BOM said the weather will ease this evening, with the system likely to bring more showers to the state's central west.


© ABC 2020

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