Residents have been warned to brace themselves as damaging winds, heavy rainfall, abnormally high tides and large surf head towards the NSW coast.
An east coast low is forecast to develop off the southern Queensland or northern New South Wales coast late on Saturday and is then expected to move southward on Sunday, a Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) statement said.
Damaging winds from the north-east, averaging 60 to 65 kilometres per hour with peak gusts in excess of 90kph, are possible from Saturday afternoon through to Sunday along much of the NSW coast.
Senior forecaster Neale Fraser said this type of storm was not unexpected in June.
“There are usually quite a few of these each June, but we had quite a dry May this year, so this will be quite a contrast,” Mr Fraser said.
“Seven years ago we had five east coast lows in June, that was quite a busy year, but usually there are a couple per year.”
Mr Fraser said weekend rainfall totals of 80 to 150 millimetres were likely for much of the area with localised falls between 200 and 300 millimetres.
“We’ll also be seeing pretty large swells, of five to six metres along all of the coast so we would recommend that people stay out of the water tomorrow,” he said.
Locations which may be affected include Lismore, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, Gosford, Sydney, Wollongong, Nowra, Batemans Bay, Armidale, Goulburn and Tamworth.
Very Large Swells Expected Along Coast
Surf Life Saving NSW (SLSNSW) has issued a warning for dangerous surf conditions over the weekend.
SLSNSW spokesman Phillip Brent said large swells would start on Saturday and increase throughout Sunday and Monday.
“We urge all beach goers, rock fishers, people using boats, to use caution when the heading down to the beach,” he said.
Mr Brent said anyone planning a beach visit should check the conditions beforehand.
He said there would be beach closures across the state and urged people to check the Beach Safe website before heading out.
“Rock fishers, we advise you not to go out this weekend, if you do, wear a life jacket and check the conditions before you go out.”
NSW State Emergency Service spokesman Phil Campbell said the SES had been ensuring it had flood rescue specialists deployed to areas that were known hotspots, particularly for flash flooding.
“We have also got logistics such as sandbags in place in areas around the state,” Mr Campbell said.
“We’ve got swift water rescue crews in a number of locations, we have had some support from Fire and Rescue NSW with a couple of crews going up to Coffs Harbour and also SES volunteers in areas not likely to be affected moving to parts of the state where we are concerned about the possibility of flash flooding.
“It’s a rather unusual event as we do have a very significant part of the NSW coastline that could be potentially affected by flash flooding and it’s really important the public do everything they can to support us by not driving in
flash flooding and finding an alternative and safe route home.”
People Encouraged to Stay Indoors This Weekend
Ken McManus from Marine Rescue NSW said the risks posed by the weather over the weekend were very serious.
“For recreational boaters the advice is really to do something different tomorrow and Sunday,” he said.
“The seas are going to be very dangerous whether you are out in them or whether you are close to the coast, even enclosed waters have strong wind warnings, and we really, honestly urge people not to go out.
“We’d prefer to have our people not to have to go out and help someone who for whatever reason through optimism or sheer bad luck get into trouble because that will put our crews in danger, as much as danger as the person who is in trouble.
“The experience we have had in NSW with these east coast lows is that the conditions do become extremely dangerous.
“These are deadly storms and we urge everyone to try not to make the newspapers in that form.”
Lawrence Orel of the National Park and Wildlife Service said he was reminding people to think carefully about whether or not they really need to visit national parks when the conditions are as extreme as predicted for this weekend.
“Certainly take care in areas where there is the potential for limbs to fall and we would strongly advise people to seriously consider whether they need to get in the surf when conditions are as they might be,” Mr Orel said.