Flooding due to heavy rain near the Lismore shopping square
Flooding due to heavy rain near the Lismore shopping square Leah White

UPDATE: North Byron residents cleared to return

UPDATE 9am: Residents of Billinudgel, Golden Beach, New Brighton and Ocean Shores have been cleared by the SES to return to their homes.

Up to 420mm of rain fell in the Brunswick Valley area in the 36 hours to 8am.

At Billinudgel, water levels peaked near 3.8m around 1am this morning it caused major flooding.

But these floodwaters are expected to recede rapidly and be below minor flood levels later this morning.

At Mullumbimby, the Brunswick River peaked at 3.85m at around 2am with moderate flooding.

These floodwaters are also set to recede rapidly today.

Flood warnings remain in place for the Wilsons and Richmond River in Lismore where water is expected to peak later today.

The BOM is predicted levels could reach those of the 2005 flood event.

UPDATE 11.30pm: Major flooding is expected at Billinudgel and moderate flooding at Mullumbimby by early Sunday morning.

Billinudgel, in the north of Byron Shire is tipped to reach major flood level of 3.8m at 1am Sunday, while Mullumbimby will reach a moderate level of 3.8m at 2am.

Evacuation orders remain in place for areas around Billinudgel and residents should heed the SES warnings on this matter.

The East Coast Low will continue to batter our region with rain and strong winds for several hours yet.

Up to 70mm of rain has fallen in the Brunswick Valley in the three hours to 11pm.

Meanwhile, moderate flood warnings remain in place for the Richmond and Wilsons River.

With forecast rainfall, Lismore is expected to reach moderate flood level of 7.2m by noon on Sunday.

Coraki will reach moderate flood levels of 5.0m Sunday afternoon.

FloodSafe advice is available at www.ses.nsw.gov.au.

For emergency assistance call the SES on 132 500.

For life threatening situations dial 000.


UPDATE, 7.30pm: MORE than 300mm of rain has fallen in some parts of the Northern Rivers over the past 48 hours, and some extensive flooding is expected.

NSW SES Richmond Tweed deputy incident controller, Wayne Pettit, said further heavy rain was forecast for the next 12 hours.

"This forecast rainfall is expected to cause moderate flooding at Lismore and Coraki on Sunday," he said.

Lismore is expected to exceed the minor flood level (4.2mAHD) around 11pm tonight.

It could reach moderate flood level tomorrow.

Coraki is likely to exceed minor flood level (3.4m) around 6am tomorrow. With forecast rainfall, it may reach moderate flood levels (5.0m) Sunday afternoon.

At this predicted height there is a high probability that flood water will completely inundate the Coraki Caravan Park.

At Bungawalbyn, extensive flooding is imminent as levees are about to be overtopped.

Floodsafe advice is available at www.ses.nsw.gov.au


UPDATE, 5.10pm:  THE latest data from the Bureau of Meteorology indicates the region is in for more heavy rainfalls, Richmond/Tweed SES region controller Andrew McPhee said.

"The indication at the last bureau update was that that level of intensity was expected to continue into the night, and the early hours of Sunday morning," he said.

"What we're saying is for people to enact their flood plans, to take the basic precautions around their home and personal property and most importantly to pay attention to the media messaging that's going out about their particularly area.

"We have a number of alert systems that will come into play if the situation deteriorates further but we just urge everyone in these Northern Rivers communities just to be vigilant and to tune into the radio so they understand what's happening."

Mr McPhee said there was some concern for inundation along the coastlines when the kind tides hit.

"We're concerned that on top of the river levels that we're already seeing that there's a bit of uncertainly about how intense the next rainfall regime will be," he said.

"The heavy offshore conditions, the strong winds, the heavy rainfall regime and combined with water levels already in the river rising with those king tides we see that there is a potential for some quite serious inundation along the coastline.

"Our biggest concerns is for some of the communities in the Tweed and certainly some of the communities that are tracking to be isolated later on Saturday afternoon and into the evening.

"In terms of greatest concern is for the Chinderah area and also Fingal and also the Seagulls estate in Tweed."

Mr McPhee said SES crews were monitoring Lismore's Richmond and Wilsons rivers, but at this stage, neither is a serious concern.

"The data at the moment doesn't indicate a massive issue for the Lismore CBD but we're certainly, at this stage, tracking that."

UPDATE, 4pm: BEFORE the heaviest rain hit this afternoon, State Emergency Service (SES) crews in the Northern Rivers had already received 94 calls for assistance.

Richmond/Tweed SES region controller Andrew McPhee said in the last 12 hours, the systems being tracked by the Bureau of Meteorology had brought heavier rain than expected to the Northern Rivers.

He said in particular, the catchment areas of the Wilsons, Brunswick and Tweed rivers had received much higher than expected rainfalls.

"We're tracking greater than expected rainfall levels, above 200mm at all of those catchments extending to about 250 plus millimetres in the Tweed catchment," Mr McPhee said.

"At the moment most of our jobs have related to storm damage with the damaging winds which have been accompanying that rainfall systems that's crossed the coast, but we're also tracking a couple of flood rescues."

One of those flood rescues involved five people who had to be extricated from a car at Upper Crystal Creek, north-west of Murwillumbah.


UPDATE 3.40pm: GALLERY - Flooded areas in Lismore as a result of heavy rainfalls

UPDATE 2.40pm: DESTRUCTIVE winds up to 125km/h are possible as the East Coast Low moves through our region this afternoon and into the evening.

Cape Byron recorded a peak wind gust of 98km/h at around 2.30pm as the wind and driving rain continues to pelt the Northern Rivers.

The SES reported on its website that is had already received 300 call outs for emergency assistance by early this morning from Sydney stretching to the Tweed border with Queensland.

At 2.10pm the SES issued a flood evacuation notice for residents within the Fingal Point area, west of the single lane temporary bridge.

Residents should be prepared to evacuate within the next two hours.

Ballina lighthouse lookout
Ballina lighthouse lookout Rebecca Lollback

UPDATE, 11.15am: A moderate flood warning has been issued for the Wilsons River.

The Bureau of Meteorology said up to 211mm of rain has fallen in 24 hours, and further heavy rain is forecast for the next 24 hours.

"This forecast rainfall is expected to cause moderate flooding at Lismore on Sunday," BoM says on its website.

"At this stage it is not possible to predict the flood peak because of uncertainty over how much more rain will fall."

Flooding near the Lismore CBD
Flooding near the Lismore CBD Leah White

Predicted river hights

Lismore will exceed minor flood level (4.2mAHD) around 11pm tonight.

With forecast rainfall, may reach moderate flood level (7.2mAHD) midday tomorrow.

Further rises possible

FloodSafe advice is available at www.ses.nsw.gov.au

For emergency assistance call the SES on telephone number 132 500.

For life threatening emergencies, call 000 immediately.


Flooding from the heavy rainfall at Richmond River high school campus in North Lismore
Flooding from the heavy rainfall at Richmond River high school campus in North Lismore Leah White

UPDATE, 10am: MORE than 200mm of rain has fallen in some parts of the Northern Rivers in 24 hours, and there's more on the way.

Huonbrook has received 217mm of rain, with Main Arm close behind on 212mm.

Heavy falls have also been recorded at:

  • Lillian Rock: 212mm
  • Burringbar: 168mm
  • Goonengerry: 156mm
  • Dunoon: 150mm
  • Mullumbimby: 146mm

Lismore has also been drenched, with 90mm of rain falling in 24 hours. Casino has received 87mm and Ballina 53mm.

UPDATE 8.40am: FLOOD warnings have now been issued for Brunswick River Valley and Tweed River.

The BOM has just updated these warnings on its website.

The rain and forecast rain is expected to cause minor to moderate flooding at Murwillumbah and Chinderah today.

To 7am this morning, 190mm of rain had fallen in that catchment in 12 hours, 60mm in the past two hours.

Murwillumbah is expected to exceed minor flood level (3.0m) around midday today and if the forecast rain continues it may reach a moderate flood level (4.0m) around 4pm today.

At Chinderah, the minor flood level (1.3m) will be exceeded around 7pm.

Meanwhile, further rain in the Brunswick Valley means that Billinudgel and Mullumbimby are both expected to reach minor flood level (2.5m) around 7pm and 9pm respectively.


UPDATE 5.30am: STRONG winds and heavy rain has lashed the Northern Rivers overnight leaving some homes without power.

The most severely impacted area appears to be around Billinudgel, Ocean Shores and Mullumbimby.

Strong winds lashed the coast with gusts of up to 91km/h hitting Cape Byron overnight.

A minor flood warning for the Brunswick River Valley was issued at 3.26am this morning.

An East Coast Low dumped 117mm of rain in this catchment area in a six hour period.

As a result of this and further rain throughout the day, minor flooding is expected at Billinudgel later this afternoon.

It is not possible to predict the flood height at this stage as it is uncertain how much more rain will fall.

With forecast rain, Billinudgel will reach minor flood level (2.5m) at around 6pm today.

FloodSafe advice is available at www.ses.nsw.gov.au

For emergency assistance call SES on 132 500.

For life threatening emergencies, call 000 immediately.


UPDATE 5PM: BUREAU of Meteorology duty forecaster Rob Taggart said the rainfall would steadily intensify over the weekend with widespread totals of about 50mm to 150mm expected, with some localised falls getting up to 200mm or 300mm.

"The most intense rainfall is expected to be on Saturday," he said.

"Generally speaking we feel that the system should start to clear out of the Northern Rivers sometime early on Sunday."

Mr Taggart said it was too early to tell exactly what areas of the Northern Rivers would be worst affected.

"Certainly places close to mountains that are exposed to onshore winds are at higher risk, but it could occur anywhere in the Northern Rivers, so we just have to see how it unfolds and keep up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings from the bureau," he said.

Mr Taggart said the cause of all the rain was a trough over New South Wales and Queensland.

"We're expecting that trough will start to move over the Northern New South Wales coast and South East Queensland coast and within that trough, a low pressure system - which we call an east coast low - should develop and that's really what's going to bring the heaviest rainfalls," he said.

"We're expecting that low pressure system will track southward once it's developed on Saturday morning and as soon as it clears the Northern Rivers, things will start to improve there."

Mr Taggart said June was the peak time of year for east coast lows.

"It's the time that's most favourable from several perspectives," he said.

"So in many ways it's not uncommon to see an east coast low somewhere on the New South Wales coast in most Junes."

UPDATE 1.15PM: BOTH NSW Police and Marine Rescue NSW have warned the public to stay cautious this weekend during the expected wild weather. 

The NSW Police Force have urged motorists to take care on the roads, with Acting State Emergency Operations Controller, Acting Deputy Commissioner Geoff Mckechnie stating it was important not to become complacent after such a long period of good weather.

"With heavy rainfall, damaging winds, and hazardous surf expected this weekend, we are advising everyone to take greater care," Acting Deputy Commissioner Mckechnie said.

"Motorists have been used to driving in dry conditions of late but heavy winds and rainfall brings with it a range of dangers including slippery roads and debris."

"If you need to be out plan your trip and check the relevant websites for updated information on traffic and weather conditions."

Police are also urging anyone thinking of going out on the water this weekend, including rock fisherman, to reconsider given the severe conditions which are predicted.

Members of the community are advised they can contact the NSW SES on 132 500 for emergency flood and storm help or visit their website www.ses.nsw.gov.au

Police continue to urge motorists, cyclists or pedestrians to be mindful of the dangers of flooded roads due to hidden dangers and debris and should never enter flood waters or cross flooded causeways.

Seek an alternate route or delay your trip to ensure you get to your destination safely.

Any motorist towing a caravan or trailer over the weekend needs to slow down and exercise extreme caution.

Marine Rescue NSW urged boaters to exercise extreme caution during the weekend.

Marine Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Dean Storey said the forecast coastal conditions, with gale force winds and heavy swell, were too risky for safe boating.

"Marine Rescue NSW volunteers will be on high alert this weekend for any emergencies that should arise in the wild weather and sea conditions," he said.

"The simple advice is to stay on shore. 

"It's just not safe out there - for you or the rescue crews who would have to come to your aid in the event of an emergency."

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has warned that conditions will be hazardous for boaters crossing bars and other coastal activities such as rock fishing.

Conditions will deteriorate along the NSW coastline over the weekend, with an East Coast Low expected to develop around the Queensland border region on Saturday night or Sunday morning and move slowly south. 

Gale force winds and waves up to four metres are expected to lash the coast, with the potential for coastal erosion.


UPDATE 12:20PM: A SEVERE weather warning has been issued by the Bureau of Meteorology for the Northern Rivers at 12.10pm today.

The warning is for damaging winds, heavy rainfall, abnormally high tides and damaging surf.

An east coast low is forecast to develop off the southern Queensland or northern New South Wales coast late tomorrow and will then move southward on Sunday.

Damaging winds from the northeast, averaging 60 to 65km/h with peak gusts in excess of 90km/h are possible from Saturday afternoon through to Sunday, along much of the coast.

Winds are expected to ease and turn northwesterly in the far north early Sunday.

Heavy rain which may lead to flash flooding is possible in the north Saturday afternoon and over the remainder late Saturday or early Sunday.

Weekend rainfall totals of 80 to 150 mm are likely for much of the area with localised falls between 200 to 300 mm.

Abnormally high tides which may cause sea water flooding of low lying areas are possible.

Water levels could exceed the highest tide of the year during Saturday and Sunday evenings' and Sunday morning's high tides.

Very heavy surf which may lead to localised damage and coastal erosion is likely.

Beach conditions in these areas could be dangerous and people should stay well away from the surf and surf exposed areas.

Locations which may be affected include Lismore, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, Gosford, Sydney, Wollongong, Nowra, Batemans Bay, Armidale, Goulburn and Tamworth. 


UPDATE 10.30am: The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a gale warning for the Byron coast, with winds between 34-47 knots expected between now and midnight on Saturday.

It follows warnings from all emergency service organisations, including Surf Life Saving NSW, the SES and Marine Rescue NSW.

Local SES crews are currently preparing for the worst of the weather, which is likely to hit the Northern Rivers tomorrow. 

Weather forecasters are predicting up to 300mm of rain in localised areas, with at least 80mm in most areas.

Surfers, swimmer, anglers and boaties are being advised to stay clear of the beaches and waterways.

If you have any storm damage call the SES on 132 500.

If you have a life threatening situation call 000.


UPDATE 10AM: A FOUR metre east/north east swell is expected to impact the coastline from southern NSW through to the Queensland border, according to Surf Life Saving NSW.

These conditions are forecast to continue throughout Sunday and into Monday.

Along with the powerful swells that have been forecast, rock fishers in particular need to be aware that a long period swell of up to 12 seconds is anticipated.

Lifesaving Manager Andy Kent has reminded the public that there are no volunteer lifesavers on patrol during winter and urges those heading to the beach to visit beachsafe.org.au to find a beach that is patrolled by Council Lifeguards.

"The public needs to be aware that while our callout teams are ready to respond to coastal emergencies, for this weekend we would advise people to think carefully before entering the water."

Mr Kent said there are a number of ways people can protect themselves while enjoying coastal activities during winter and urges the public to not overestimate their abilities or underestimate the conditions.

"The best advice we can give people is to be aware of their environment. Take the time to study a recent weather forecast before heading out and let others know what your plans are, the conditions this weekend look like they will be ugly.

"Once you get to beach if you have any doubt about your abilities in the conditions it is best not to go out," he said.

General Safety Tips During Dangerous Surf Conditions:

  • Avoid rock fishing and water activities on exposed beaches/rock-shelves
  • Only swim at patrolled beaches, between the red & yellow flags. 
  • Check the official Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecast before undertaking rock fishing and water activities
  • Boaties should seek advice from Marine Rescue NSW and always wear a lifejacket
  • If witnessing an in-water emergency dial Triple Zero - Police


UPDATE 9.05AM: AS NSW and QLD prepare for a deluge of rain, it has been revealed that firefighters are rescuing more people from floods than ever before as scientists predict storms and flash flooding will only worsen under climate change.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting possible thunderstorms and localised rainfalls of up to 250mm this weekend.

New Australian research shows climate change is causing shorter, more concentrated and intense storms leading to increased risk of flash flooding.

Researchers from the University of New South Wales analysed the data from 1300 rain gauges and 1700 temperature stations across Australia and found that flooding from more concentrated storms was up to 60% more likely due to climate change.

Analysis of the latest incidence data from emergency services in NSW and QLD revealed that Firefighters in NSW attended 5579 storms, floods and other natural disasters in 2014-15, up almost 80% from the 3126 incidents recorded four years earlier.

Firefighters in QLD also recorded a jump in such incidents with more than 120 swift-water rescues or near drownings recorded in 2011, up 500% from the 20 recorded in 2005.

NSW SES volunteers carried out 122 flood rescues during the most recent storm season.

Members of the public are urged to stay tuned for updated forecasts and warnings, follow the advice of local emergency services and not to drive, ride or walk through flood water.


FRIDAY 7.15AM: AS the region prepares for a deluge of rain, local emergency services are preparing for calls.

However, there are ways you can prepare for the weather event yourself and prevent emergency services one more call out.

What we know about the East Coast Low

Website forecaster Weatherzone has predicted up to 40mm for today and 80mm for Saturday.

The Bureau of Meteorology said a low pressure trough will deepen over the northern inland of NSW today, reaching the New South Wales coast later on Saturday.

An East Coast Low is forecast to develop within the trough off the coast near the New South Wales - Queensland border during Saturday night into Sunday.

The East Coast Low is expected to move slowly southwards during Sunday and Monday and will bring heavy rainfall to Northern NSW.

The Bureau of Meteorology put out a flood watch for the Northern Rivers area yesterday.

In addition, King Tides will add to the risk of flooding in lower tidal areas.

This forecast rainfall and high tides have the potential to cause flooding as well as local flash flooding from Saturday in the following river valleys.

1. Tweed - minor to moderate flooding

2. Brunswick - minor to moderate flooding

3. Wilsons - moderate flooding

4. Richmond - minor to moderate flooding

5. Clarence including Orara - moderate flooding

What You Can Do To Keep Safe

The Richmond Tweed SES are preparing their storm and flood rescue teams for the forecasted weather even this weekend.

SES spokesperson Janet Pettit said there are a number of things residents can do to help stay safe.

"There will be strong winds with the East Coast Low so people should bring in outdoor furniture and anything that could fly about," she said.

"People should have their home emergency plan and kit ready should the power go down."

Ms Pettit also said to avoid any unnecessary travel on the weekend especially when in low-lying areas or near causeways.

"So tuck up and grab a DVD," she said.

"We have not had any big weather events for a while, so hopefully people will remember what to do."

If you have any storm damage call the SES on 132 500.

If you have a life threatening situation call 000.

Essential Energy have these tips for what to do during an electrical storm:

  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary appliances to avoid possible damage by lightning
  • Avoid using landline telephones as the lightning strike can travel along telephone lines causing you to receive an electric shock
  • Avoid touching metallic material such as water pipes and taps during electrical storms
  • Do not use any electrical appliances that have become wet or damaged
  • Do not go outside until the storm has passed.

After a storm they advise:

  • Damaged or fallen powerlines can be hard to spot. Indicators of potential damage may include flickering or no power supply, burnt areas in paddocks or roadsides, injured or downed stock, smoke or fallen trees. Contact Essential Energy on 13 20 80 if you see fallen or damaged powerlines. Always stay at least 8 metres away from the line and anything in contact with it and report the fault immediately
  • Contact Essential Energy on 13 20 80 if your vehicle comes into contact with powerlines. If it is safe to do so, stay inside the vehicle and call Essential Energy immediately. Familiarise yourself with emergency escape procedures by downloading the 'Emergency response to a powerline incident' fact sheet from essentialenergy.com.au/safety
  • Unplug any suspect appliances and have them checked by an electrician prior to using them
  • If a fuse or circuit breaker needs to be replaced or checked, turn the power off at the main switch. Ensure the correct size fuse wire is used. If the fuse blows again or the circuit breaker won't reset, contact Essential Energy or a licensed electrical contractor
  • Report any building damage, fires or trees/branches contacting powerlines to Essential Energy as soon as
  • possible
  • Contact Essential Energy if your electrical supply has gone off. 

For those planning to head out on a boat this weekend, Roads and Maritime have advised:

  • Check the official weather forecast before and during boating
  • Ensure the boat and its equipment is suitable for the conditions 
  • Log on/off with a Marine Rescue NSW marine radio base for every trip offshore
  • Wear a lifejacket.

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