Power outages, cars float away as massive rainfall batters entire east coast

Heavy rain and gale force winds have battered Australia's east coast as streets become inundated with floods and a trail of storm destruction.

Queensland and New South Wales have been hit the hardest as forecasters warn severe thunderstorms will continue.

Car float away at Toombul shopping centre car park in Brisbane. Photo: Twitter

Cars underwater as rain soaks Brisbane. Photo: RobiulIslam91/Twitter

The car park of Brisbane's Toombul shopping centre has been completely submerged in water, with floods sweeping away parked cars.

In New South Wales, the entire coast has been put on flood watch for what meteorologists believe is the first time in 30 years.

Up to 80mm of rain has fallen on the Sydney metropolitan area in the past 24 hours, with the worst to come on Sunday.

A strong upper trough over the southern interior is delivering a downpour to Queensland as the Bureau of Meteorology warns flash flooding and localised rainfall totals of up to 250mm during the weekend.

Bruce Highway at Carseldine. Photo: RobiulIslam91/Twitter

As the system moved into southeast Queensland this morning, Deception Bay received 157mm of rain in three hours, while in the same period Burpengary received 140mm.

"The system that's been delivering all the rain so far is a rain band with the odd embedded thunderstorm in it," forecaster Gordon Banks said.

"Once that goes through, we're still seeing a great deal of instability and plenty of moisture around, so we're going to have showers and storms redeveloping behind the main band over the next few hours."

Parked cars begin to become submerged in Brisbane. Photo: RobiulIslam91/Twitter

The SES Queensland had received more than 500 calls for help.

"Predominantly the work has just been to assist householders that have had inundation into their homes and often overland water running in under their home and leaking roofs," SES spokesman Steve Waddell told ABC radio.

Inspector Peter Flanders of the Road Policing Command pleaded with motorists to be patient on the roads and be wary of reduced visibility.

He also reiterated warnings for motorists to never drive through floodwaters.

BOM radar shows very heavy rain battering QLD coast this morning. Photo: BOM/Twitter

"If you've got passengers in your car, you have a responsibility for their safety - they're putting their lives in your hands so please take that responsibility seriously."

His warning came after a 21-year-old woman was rescued near Alpha overnight after her car was swept off the Capricorn highway.

More than 6500 properties were without power and almost half of those were in the Brisbane city region, according to Energex.

The bureau's warning for damaging winds, heavy rainfall, abnormally high tides and dangerous surf have remained in place for Queensland's southeast coast, Wide Bay and Burnett districts.

Warnings for an east coast low are forecast to develop off the northern New South Wales coast late on Saturday, moving southward on Sunday and bringing damaging winds, heavy rain and flash flooding.

BOM senior meteorologist Adam Morgan says it's unusual to see an east coast low track southward.

"We've got forecasters in NSW that can't remember in 30 years having a flood watch out for the entire NSW coast," Mr Morgan said.

The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge barely visible in the rain. Photo: Twitter

Winds in excess of 90km/h are possible in the state's north on Saturday, arriving in the south by Saturday evening and persisting into Sunday.

"Everywhere is a bit of a risk, but probably the far north and the far south coasts tomorrow in terms of rain are the bigger risks for those higher-end falls," Mr Morgan said.

The State Emergency Service said it received almost 300 calls for emergency assistance in the past 24 hours, mostly from residences in the state's north but also Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Maitland and Gosford.

Flooding seen on a street in Auchenflower in Queensland. Photo: Facebook

"Heavy rain has been falling along parts of the northern inland overnight and along the coast, especially the Northern Rivers Region, where falls of up to 188mm have been recorded in the Tweed Valley," the SES said in a statement.

"In terms of picking the exact location of flash flooding, it's really difficult," Mr Morgan said.

"These systems are quite small even though the effects are quite broad.

"What we'd advise is that people keep track of the warnings as they're updated."

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