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Heavy rainfall in Australia relieves drought but poses new hazards

  • Heavy rainfall in Australia relieves drought but poses new hazards
    Photo: NSW Government
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The east coast of Australia has seen four days of heavy rain, bringing relief to the drought that affects the area since 2016, and a devastating forest fire season, reports The New York Times. However, storms have caused important damages and more extreme weather is on the way.

The past weekend’s rain episode was the largest in Sydney and neighbouring areas for the past 30 years, putting out fires and refilling dams in the state of New South Wales. Greater Sydney’s reservoirs are now at 64.2% capacity, up 22.3 percentage points from last week. In some rural areas, last week brought more rain than the whole past year.

One of the worst forest fires in NSW, Currawon, on the south coast, which burned 500,000 ha, was finally put out by the rain. Another 33 fires are still active in the state, mostly in south-eastern areas where rain is expected.

On the other hand, the weekend downpour caused havoc in Sydney and surrounding areas. Sydney, where almost 400 millimetres of rain fell in 4 days from Friday to Monday, started the week with transport chaos and school closures. Power cuts have affected tens of thousands of homes, and residents in low-lying areas along the NSW coast were ordered to evacuate due to flooding.

"The weather forecast includes thunderstorms in the states of NSW and Victoria in the next few days. Jane Gloding, forecaster for the Bureau of Meteorology, noted more rain​ will be needed to end the drought: ‘The rainfall deficiency is so severe that the soil is dry to deep levels, so we really need that follow-up rain’.

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