Severe storms hit Port Augusta with further heavy rain predicted to fall

Described as a “one in a hundred year” weather event, severe storms have lashed Port Augusta overnight, with predicted heavy rain to hit SA today.

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The State Emergency Service, Bureau of Meteorology and SA Police provided an update on severe weather conditions in the Far North and supply efforts to isolated communities.

Port Augusta and APY Lands lashed with rain: 

Described as a “one in a hundred-year” weather event, the severe storms hitting the Far North of SA have seen rainwater submerge places in Port Augusta and the APY Lands. 

Last night, Port Augusta was lashed with 59mm of rain in a short, three-hour period, resulting in hundreds of callouts to the SES and swift water rescues for individuals caught in the flash flooding. 

The severe storm and flash flooding seen in Port Augusta overnight have left the area “sodden”, with forecasts predicting further rainfall is still to come. 

Other areas were also hard hit with the severe weather event seen in the Far North of the state, including the APY lands, which saw 106mm of rain fall on the region, leading to major outback roads becoming impassable. 

Most roads in the affected areas remain closed and impassable, with Beattie stating “please stay away,” if planning to travel to the flooded region. The remaining advice to those residing in the affected locations is to stay put and reconsider non-essential travel.

SES call-outs across South Australia remain low, with Beattie calling the affected areas “resilient communities.” Most calls derived from the affected Port Augusta area.

A hundred call outs for help were issued to triple zero (000) and the emergency 132500-line last night in Port Augusta and surrounding areas, with several swift-water rescues undertaken for individuals caught in the flash flooding.

Port Augusta saw 80 call outs in under an hour to the emergency lines, with Beattie continuing there was a “tremendous effort across the emergency service employed in responding to the Port Augusta weather event.”

Four people were rescued from cars that came unstuck in floodwaters, with the SES Chief Executive driving home a stern message to communities to “stay safe and stay put.”

“It’s really disappointing to see some members of the community not heeding the message,” said Beattie.

“Driving through floodwaters can be one of the most dangerous things anybody can do during a severe weather event. It’s the leading cause of death for flooding.”

The search for a missing 40-year-old man is continuing after the Queensland man was last seen Tuesday. Christopher Taylor was last seen on foot at Innamincka in the northeast of the state. It has been reported he was camping with friends. 

Further heavy rain forecasted: 

A BOM spokesperson stated the severe weather warning current remains, with the storm progressing from the far north of SA, before clearing the far east in the early morning of Wednesday.

An expected 50-80mm of rain is predicted to fall in this period, with a potential for further thunderstorms, with the heaviest to hit the northern parts of the North East Pastoral district and North West Pastoral district.

“We are continuing to monitor this very heavy rain and storm event as it progresses across the far north of our state,” a BOM spokesperson said.

In the following days, South Australia will return to its usual summertime pattern and maintain good weather, with a high-pressure system replacing the current low-pressure system swirling from ex-Tropical Cyclone Tiffany and another low system spilling into SA from WA’s Broome.

However, the predicted sunshine doesn’t mean the flooding is over, with BOM stating that it may take time for the water to evaporate from the submerged roads and land. A generalised flood warning will continue, including the Cooper Creek with the potential for the issue to be extended.

However, when asked if the severe weather will get worse, the bureau stated “no.”

“The event will ease in the coming days, but through the far north areas it will remain how much rain they get today,” a BOM spokesperson said.

Repair and aid to damaged areas: 

The Stuart Highway at Glendambo also remains closed, with 400mm of water remaining over the major road. It will take an estimated 12 days for the water to subside the highway. Chief Executive of SES Chris Beattie said the SES and Department of Infrastructure are exploring engineering options to drain the floodwaters. 

ARTC has begun to repair the damage sustained to the Tarcoola train line, with restoration expected to be completed by February 17. Last nights heavy rainfall in Port Augusta and the APY Lands did not affect the repair ongoing at Tarcoola.

More than 20 tonnes of emergency supplies have been flown into Coober Peedy, with the remainder set to arrive today. Five more flights with similar cargo are expected to land in the far north within the next day.

“It’s been a well-executed and collaborative effort for all involved and I am very grateful for the help and support of the ADF,” stated Beattie.

The zone emergency team, coordinated by state police, local council and emergency services, is satisfied that the affected remote and isolated communities have sufficient food supplies, acknowledging they are short on fresh food and meat. Dry stock and frozen food are available, with the Beattie saying they will re-asses supply in some areas.

Stay up to date with BOM weather warnings here.

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