London is known for being damp and grey. Yet NSW has been so wet it’s seen more rain in the last few days than many soggy cities worldwide.
It’s known as the land of drizzle and unending grey skies, where days of 15C are considered toasty.
Yet compared to Australia right now, the UK looks distinctly dry, even a bit parched.
So much rain has fallen in Australia in just the last week alone, it has beaten – by some margin – the annual rainfall for much of Britain.
In some parts of NSW, a metre of rain has fallen over the last week. Floods not seen for at least 20 years have submerged Sydney suburbs, a new “flood proof” bridge in the city is underwater and the State Emergency Service has said some areas of NSW resemble an “inland sea”.
In the outback, which has been drenched, some towns saw a season’s worth of rain in just a couple of days.
The extraordinary nature of the current conditions can be further seen by comparing them with otherwise soggy cities overseas.
Port Macquarie has seen 556mm of rainfall this month, much of that since last Wednesday. By the end of the week it could well exceed the annual rainfall in San Francisco, a city known for its fog and soggy days, which tops out at 581mm.
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WETTER THAN LONDON, DUBLIN, SAN FRAN
Then there’s London. As many Australians overseas will attest, it’s a city where a brolley is an everyday essential. The UK’s version of the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), the Meteorological Office, has a major weather station in Kew Gardens, just south west of the city’s CBD.
In a typical year, this London weather station records 622mm of rain in the gauge.
Yet, since last Friday, Kempsey on the mid north coast has recorded 680mm of rain. It’s beaten 365 days of London rainfall in just five days.
Over the whole month of March, which still has more than a week to run, Kempsey has seen more than 800mm of precipitation.
Annually, Kempsey can expect 1143mm of rain. It’s already exceeded that, clocking up 1158mm of moisture since January.
Kempsey has also streaked ahead of damp Dublin’s annual rainfall of 731mm. Indeed, it’s well on its way to toppling Tokyo which sees 1500mm descend from the skies every calendar year.
But it’s still some way off Darwin which, in the rainy season, can see the gauge fill by up to 1.7 metres.
Some parts of NSW have been even wetter. Comboyne, some 44km north of Taree, has now totalled 1034mm of rainfall. That’s over a metre.
Mt Seaview, 80km west of Port Macquarie, has seen the heaviest rain nationwide recording 1083mm in the week to Tuesday afternoon. In some areas, two thirds of the annual rainfall has descended in a matter of days.
FLOODS COULD TAKE MONTHS TO RECEDE
Meteorologists have said it could take months before much of the flooding caused by this week’s huge rain event finally subsides.
While costal communities, including Sydney, should see the floodwaters recede towards the weekend, flooding west of the Dividing Range could hang around.
“In western NSW, once the rivers get going, they can keep flowing for not just days but weeks or months on end, as the floodwaters make their way through the state,” said the BOM’s Victoria Dodds on Tuesday.
In the interior, the land is relatively flat, so the water is given little encouragement to drain. And the distance that water has to cover is vast before it finally finds its way to a major river like the Murray or to Lake Eyre.
On Wednesday, the focus of the rain event will move south.
The BOM has warned eastern Victoria and eastern Tasmania could also get a thrashing in the coming days as the heavens open.