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Ex-cyclone Oswald expected to cause havoc in Northern NSW

Graeme Hall of The Lismore SES sitting on a pile of sandbags at the Lismore SES depot. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star
Graeme Hall of The Lismore SES sitting on a pile of sandbags at the Lismore SES depot. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star

OVERNIGHT rain and high winds were expected to wreak havoc on the Northern Rivers, as ex-cyclone Oswald continued its remarkable spin down the eastern seaboard.

But SES personnel were last night optimistic that the worst of the weather had been expended on the residents of Queensland, where the powerful rain depression caused record rainfall, flash flooding and destruction from a band of waterspouts.

Lismore SES controller Stuart Ferguson said rainfall forecast for this morning was now not as much as some models had suggested late last week.

"The system is moving south, south-east quickly and we expect it to clear by mid morning," he said.

Flooding on the Wilsons River was expected to be minor but volunteer crews were still preparing for flash flooding overnight.

The highest rainfall over the weekend fell at Hopkins Creek west of Murwillumbah, inside the Mt Warning Caldera, where more than 380mm were recorded in the 33 hours since 9am Saturday

Of greater concern was the Bureau of Meteorology's storm forecast for waters between Point Danger and Port Hacking, with north east winds increasing to 90 km/hr and gusting as high has 140 km/hr.

Combined sea and swell was predicted to peak above 7m at a period of less than 10 seconds.

As of last night the wave rider buoy east of Cape Byron was not working but data fed from a buoy off Coffs Harbour and another east of Tweed registered up to 8 metre seas arriving at just under 10 seconds apart, with average seas at 4m arriving 8 seconds apart.

SES controller for Byron Shire John Farley said his volunteers were preparing for storm surge tides higher than usual this morning, with the possibility of beach erosion around the Belongil area.

But as of last night there was no damage reported, despite similar high tides yesterday morning.

At Evans Head high tides yesterday scoured the dunes in front of the surf club, where erosion has occurred during high tides throughout much of last year, but no damage was created.

Winds gusted as high as 87 km/hr at Cape Byron and 76 km/hr at Ballina but rescue volunteers were preparing for higher gusts as the rain depression moved away from our region and rapidly swirled south, where it is expected to hammer the Hunter and the Greater Sydney area by midnight Monday night.

Many landholders on the lower Richmond will breathe a collective sigh of relief at the news that flooding will not affect young cane or maturing soybean crops. The same could be said for council engineers at Kyogle and the Richmond Valley, who will be spared damage to causeways and low lying bridges.

Probably the greatest sigh may come from river fishermen who will not have to see good quality water replaced with oxygen deficient murk that can easily kill an entire river ecosystem when major floods occur during the hot summer months.

Fast facts

  • Winds gusted as high as 87 km/hr at Cape Byron and 76 km/hr at Ballina.
  • Data fed from a buoy off Coffs Harbour and another east of Tweed registered up to 8 metre seas arriving at just under 10 seconds apart, with average seas at 4m arriving 8 seconds apart.
  • The highest rainfall from 9am Saturday through last night fell at Hopkins Creek west of Murwillumbah, inside the Mt Warning Caldera, where more than 380mm were recorded.

Topics:  ex-tropical cyclone oswald


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