Sydney flooding, Queensland bushfires continue streak of extreme weather across Australia

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
November 30, 2018, 12:55:35 AM EST

Torrential rainfall brought a month’s worth of rainfall to parts of Sydney in only two hours on Wednesday, resulting in widespread flooding.

Meanwhile, bushfires continue to ravage parts of Queensland, where months of drought have turned the region into a tinderbox.

These sharp contrasts in the weather are just the latest extreme weather events to affect Australia.

Damaging winds, a blinding dust storm and heavy mountain snow have already been recorded earlier this month in eastern Australia.

Torrential downpours in Sydney brought the city to a standstill on Wednesday and resulted in at least two deaths, according to the BBC.

Sydney Flooding 11/28

Vehicles drive on a flooded street in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia November 28, 2018 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. (@DeeCee451/via REUTERS)

Two police officers were injured by a falling tree while trying to help others during the storm.

Dozens of accidents and flooded roadways snarled traffic and forced more than a dozen water rescues across the city.

Insurers had already received more than 1,600 claims due to the storm, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Damages, which are mostly for roof and car damage, are being estimated at $10 million.

That is not an unusual number of claims for a Sydney regional seasonal storm, Insurance Council of Australia general manager of communications Campbell Fuller stated.

Travel by air was also impacted, with more than 130 flights from Sydney airports being delayed or canceled due to the storm.

Rainfall totaled 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) around the city, with most of the rain falling within a two-hour period.

The Australia Bureau of Meteorology reported that it was the wettest November day in Sydney since 1984.

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Strong winds accompanying the storm resulted in more than 8,000 power outages, many of which lasted into Wednesday night.

Drier weather will aid in storm cleanup into this weekend. Abundant sunshine is forecast for Saturday, when temperatures can climb to 27 C (80 F). A breeze will blow on Saturday afternoon.

There is a stark contrast in the weather farther north across Queensland. Months of drought have left the region extremely susceptible to wildfires.

Strong winds associated with the storm that impacted Sydney and an ongoing heat wave have helped to fuel more than 130 bushfires across the state.

The fire danger level in the state has risen to “catastrophic” for the first time in history and prompted the evacuation of thousands of people, the BBC reported.

The fires have destroyed two houses, 15 sheds and two cabins, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Fourteen homes were damaged, but firefighters were able to save 100 homes in Mount Larcom.

Australia fire Nov 29

In this Nov. 2018, photo released on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, a firefighter works on a fire ground at Deepwater, near Bundaberg, Australia. (QLD Fire and Emergency via AP)

"Firefighters will have to deal with increasingly gusty winds daily through at least this weekend," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.

"Humidity levels will be higher this weekend," she said. "While the added moisture can help to slow the rate at which the fires burn, it can create dangerously higher AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures amid the already hot weather."

A total of 15 firefighters have already suffered heat stress, ABC stated.

Aside from an isolated shower or thunderstorm, no rainfall is expected across the region this weekend.

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