Australia’s Sydney sees wettest year on record

Sydney Opera House

In what can be described as a record breaking weather system, Australia’s biggest city, Sydney has broken its annual rainfall record.

The city has received more than 2,200mm of rainfall since January, Australia’s weather agency announced.

Widespread flooding across Australia – driven by a La Niña weather pattern, has already killed more than 20 people this year.

People in Sydney and elsewhere have been warned of immediate flood risks and to brace for another wet summer.

“We’ve seen a lot of rain around Sydney today, but it is only going to get worse,” said New South Wales (NSW) Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke on Thursday.

Sydney’s previous rainfall record of 2,194mm was set in 1950.

More heavy rain and storms are forecast for the coming days but catchments are saturated, dams are full, and rivers are already swollen, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

That means many areas are primed for rapid flooding.

“Our message for the community in the coming days is prepare now,” forecaster Gabrielle Woodhouse said.

“[This flooding] looks as though it’s going to be more significant than what we have been seeing over the past 12 months.”

Some areas in Sydney and its surrounds may be flooded, but communities in the NSW central west are most at risk, she said.

For some people in areas like the Hawksbury-Nepean, on the western fringe of Sydney, it will be the fifth flood event in less than two years.

Thousands of homes were left uninhabitable when flooding hit NSW and Queensland in February and March.

The disaster was Australia’s most expensive flood in its history. Some of the areas worst hit faced flooding again within weeks.

Experts say the recent wet weather has been driven by climate change and the La Niña phenomenon. In Australia, a La Niña increases the likelihood of rain, cyclones and cooler daytime temperatures.

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