Heavy rain for millions on Aussie east coast in potential first for 2024

Much of the country's east is in for a drenching in the coming days as the fine weather over Easter comes to an abrupt end.

Much of Australia's east coast is in for a drenching this week as the nation's run of pleasant weather over Easter comes to an abrupt end, with large parts of the country expected to cop a dumping of rain, formally ushering in the start of the cool descent into winter.

In Victoria, the wet weather has already begun, with Melbourne plunged into chaos overnight as heavy rainfall bucketed down across the city in addition to intense wind gusts of over 100 kilometres per hour. Flash floods swept through parts of the state yesterday and early this morning, with SES volunteers responding to close to 250 reports of building damage and 110 flood-related incidents.

The bulk of the thunderstorms are currently centred around Victoria today but are expected to make their way through much of NSW this afternoon and Queensland further into the week. The soggy conditions could see the first east coast low of 2024, which experts warn may result in more flash-flooding.

Pictured here are members of the public in Sydney donning umbrellas, as the east of Australia prepares for a cool change.
Much of Australia's east is in for a cool change and a dumping of rain this week. Source: Getty.

The east coast low is an intense low-pressure system that occurs off the east of Australia, bringing heavy rainfall to the region, as well as the potential for storms, flooding and coastal erosion.

Melbourne cops major dumping ahead of intense system

Almost 500 requests for help were made to emergency services as thunderstorms, damaging winds and heavy rain pummelled Victoria overnight. There were four separate flood rescues since midday on Monday, according to SES duty officer Erin Mason, with some 63 callouts related to trees down on roads during the wild storm.

"Mainly it's been people driving through floodwater," Mason said. "So just a reminder to people to never drive through floodwater, if the road is flooded I encourage people to stop, turn around and find an alternate path."

Mason expected the number of callouts to rise in coming hours as the weather system heads east and more residents wake up to find damage at their homes. The western suburbs of Melbourne including Melton and parts of Geelong were among the areas hardest hit overnight.

A weather radar showing rainfall over NSW, as the nation's east prepares for a cool change.
Victoria has copped a lashing from extreme weather overnight, with the soggy conditions currently sweeping through NSW today. Source: ABC

A severe weather warning for heavy rainfall and damaging wind gusts remains in place for much of Victoria's east stretching from parts of Melbourne down to southern Gippsland and the High Country.

The alert extends across the NSW border to parts of the South West Slopes and Snowy Mountains, with damaging winds and peak gusts up to 130km/h expected on Tuesday morning.

On Monday, lightning caused a 40-minute halt to the Geelong and Hawthorn AFL match at the MCG while the Stawell Gift's finals were delayed by about two hours due to torrential rain and water over the track.

The highest rainfall totals were in central Victoria including Melbourne, with Olympic Park recording 53mm of rain since 9am on Monday. Meanwhile, a woman at Daylesford in central Victoria had a narrow escape after falling into a stormwater drain just before 9pm.

She fell down an embankment and was carried by fast-flowing water until she grabbed hold of a metal pole, Victoria Police said. The 58-year-old tried to call for help but couldn't be heard over the sound of rushing water. The force said she was eventually able to climb to safety, suffering minor cuts and bruises.

Eastern seaboard to cop a lashing this week

Though cold fronts aren't unusual across the country in autumn, the current system is headed toward the belt of tropical moisture that brought flooding to the outback last week and is therefore producing significantly heavier rainfall than normal.

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Senior Meteorologist Dean Narramore with the Bureau of Meteorology said NSW and Queensland will cop the brunt this week.

"We're likely to see an increase of showers, rain and thunderstorms in southeast Queensland and northeast NSW on Thursday, then that'll spread along much of the NSW coast on Friday and Saturday with moderate, possibly heavy falls and gusty winds," Narramore said. "Then that'll probably ease off as we get into the latter part of the weekend."

"Autumn and early winter is the peak time for east coast lows or coastal troughs along the NSW and southeast Queensland coast and generally they're associated with heavy rainfall and strong and gusty winds, depending how deep and strong those lows get.

"We haven't seen something like this for a couple of years in autumn. So this, if it happens, will be the first one in a few years during an autumn period. Though there's still some uncertainty over whether there will be an east coast low or not however."

Across the country there are currently extreme weather warnings in place in every jurisdiction apart from the Northern Territory. Western Australians are the only portion of the country being warned of heat, with wet conditions expected in every other state and territory.

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