Sydney has recorded its wettest year since records began in 1858 as further downpours are forecast in coming days that could cause more flooding in Australia’s eastern states.
Thursday morning showers in central Sydney took the city’s rainfall so far this year beyond the previous record set in 1950 of 2,194 millimeters (86 inches).
Australia has experienced heavy downpours in recent months, forcing residents to flee their homes as rivers breached their banks and waters rose around Sydney, northern New South Wales (NSW) and southern Queensland.
And more rain is forecast for the rest of 2022 due to the rare occurrence of a third straight La Niña, a weather system that typically causes wet, windy summers.
“Heading into late spring and summer, we’re still in this active La Niña period so we can expect more and more rainfall and that does increase the risk of flooding,” Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) forecaster Jonathan How said.
In just the first nine months of this year, Sydney Observatory Hill, which measures rain in the NSW capital, received 2,100 mm of rain, around 175% of the average, according to CNN Meteorologists.
October is typically the second-driest month of the year, but this year, rain has fallen on 13 of the past 15 days, and the city has received almost a month’s rainfall in just one week.
Authorities are warning residents of potential flash flooding and to stay away from flooded roads.
Many dams and rivers have already reached capacity. The NSW government has committed to raising the height of the wall at Sydney’s Warragamba Dam, which supplies 80% of the city’s water, to help prevent future floods.
Some of the state’s rural inland towns are already flooded, with television footage showing residents moving farm animals to higher grounds and damaged roads.
Additional reporting by Reuters.