A man has died and the authorities have asked thousands of people to evacuate their homes amid torrential rain and major flooding in Australia’s largest city, Sydney. Roads have been cut off, with 18 evacuation orders in western Sydney alone and warnings of more to come.
“This is a life-threatening emergency situation,” announced Stephanie Cooke, emergency services minister for the state of New South Wales. Australia was hit by major flooding in March, killing 20 people, many in NSW. “We are now facing dangers on multiple fronts – flash flooding, riverine flooding and coastal erosion,” Ms Cooke told a media briefing. Her warning came as the Bureau of Meteorology said up to 350mm of rain had hit certain areas, risking flooding along the Nepean river.
Experts point out the flooding emergency has been worsened by climate change and a La Niña weather phenomenon. A La Niña develops when strong winds blow the warm surface waters of the Pacific away from South America and towards Indonesia. In their place, colder waters come up to the surface.
In Australia, a La Niña increases the likelihood of rain, cyclones and cooler daytime temperatures.