‘Unusual’ storms prompt grim warning

An ‘unusual’ May cold front is set to bring heavy rain, thunderstorms, large hail and a risk of flooding to Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

Australia’s east coast has been hit by an “unusual” mid-May cold front bringing heavy rain, severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and large hail.

The weather may lead to flash flooding across northeast NSW, the state’s south coast, southeast Queensland and eastern Victoria on Tuesday.

Weatherzone meteorologist Graeme Brittain said rainfall totals reached 27mm at Green Cape, NSW within five hours.

Heavy rainfall was expected to continue in the state’s south coast, potentially exceeding 80mm before the end of the day, Mr Brittain said.

“We had some pretty heavy falls of rain there less than a week ago so the river systems are already quite full,” he said.

There was also 49mm of rainfall in Victoria’s Mount Moornapa since 9am this morning, with Mount Waldron also recording 47mm.

Like parts of NSW, areas in eastern Victoria could also record up to 80mm of rain.

Many places across Australia’s southeast could also shiver through their coldest day of the year so far, with snow forecast in many areas.

Sky News meteorologist Alison Osborne said temperatures behind the cold front would be chilly on Tuesday, with afternoon maximums below 15C across Victoria, Tasmania below 10C and below 15C across most of southeastern NSW.

“It will be noticeably cooler in places like Sydney and Newcastle as well,” she said.

Weather bureau meteorologist Sarah Scully said thunderstorms would peak during the afternoon on Tuesday in southeast Queensland and northern NSW.

“Mid-May is an unusual time for severe thunderstorms to develop but high humidity combined with an upper level low are forecast to bring increased thunderstorm activity (beginning in) the early hours of Tuesday morning,” she said.

“Storms are forecast to continue into Wednesday and Thursday, however, they will be less likely to be severe.”

In the southeast, widespread rainfalls of 30-60mm, with isolated heavier totals of more than 100mm have been forecast for far east Gippsland and the ranges.

The weather bureau also remains concerned about flooding, with a watch in place for most Gippsland catchments.

A minor flood warning has also been put in place for the Bemm, Cann and Genoa Rivers in Victoria.

The severe weather warning remains in place for Gippsland, the Otway Ranges and parts of south coast and alpine areas of NSW.

The heavy rainfall had been forecast to slowly contract eastwards and ease late Tuesday into the hours of early Wednesday.

Weather bureau senior meteorologist Chris Arvier said the catchments were already saturated and “primed for rainfall”.

“There is a flooding concern with this rainfall and minor flooding is possible throughout the day on Tuesday,” he said.

“As the low stalls in the Tasman Sea, it’s going to basically sit offshore and bring in a lot of rainfall.

“By Wednesday we’re expecting a mostly sunny day, relatively cool though in the morning.

“We’re likely to have a little bit of a frosty morning on Wednesday.”

Residents in the Mid North Coast, Hunter and Greater Newcastle districts in NSW have also been warned severe thunderstorms could drop large hailstones and produce damaging winds.

At about 2.35pm AEST, those severe thunderstorms were detected near Seaham and Wallalong, and were moving east towards Nelson Bay, Anna Bay and Lemon Tree Passage.

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