Torrential rain, floods and fallen trees cause train chaos
Train travellers are being urged to delay non-essential travel or allow extra time as torrential rain, flooding and felled trees cause chaos on Sydney's rail network.
Trains are on the Central Coast-Newcastle line are currently suspended in both directions between Hornsby and Morriset, with Transport NSW scrambling to organise replacement buses.
⚠🌧 Severe weather conditions are affecting infrastructure across the network, inc trees in overhead wiring & blocking tracks, external power issues, signal equipment repairs and flooding— Trains Info (@TrainsInfo) February 9, 2020
Avoid any non-essential travel and if you must travel, allow plenty of extra travel time. pic.twitter.com/SiSQ1sFuFY
A small number of buses have arrived to take passengers north from Hornsby, with more on the way soon.
The shutdown was triggered by a combination of rain-related issues on the network, including power supply and signal issues at Wyong and Wondabyne stations.
Trains are operating as normal from Morriset to Newcastle.
Travellers on the Blue Mountains line are also being urged to delay travel with a tree stuck in overhead wiring at Blackheath shutting down the line between Katoomba and Mount Victoria.
Transport NSW has provided limited replacement buses and train services from Katoomba to the city but the service is experiencing major delays.
Urgent repairs at Central Station are causing changes in stopping patterns, early terminations and delays across the Sydney rail network.
SYDNEY ON FLOOD WATCH
The next 12 hours will be critical as Sydney and much of the NSW coast braces for its biggest dumping of rain since 1998.
Thousands are without power, scores of people have been rescued from floodwaters and the SES has attended more than 2200 calls for help since the downpour began on Wednesday, SES Commissioner Carlene York said.
"We are getting a lot of flooding into homes through roof damage and trees coming down," she said.
She said so far the worst hit areas were the Central Coast and Milperra in Sydney's southwest, Narrabeen on the northern beaches and areas around the Hawkesbury and Nepean river.
"Some of the streets and conditions when we get to these jobs can be quite dangerous, so we will work with community members in relation to fixing those issues."
There have been 40 requests for flood rescue assistance because of people getting caught between rising creeks and cars driving into floodwaters.
Rivers in Sydney's west have experienced minor flood levels with residents along the Nepean River at Penrith, Menangle and Wallacia told to take precautions.
The Colo River in Sydney's northwest has also exceeded its flood levels, with the suburbs of Upper Colo expected to be affected by floodwaters later today.
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Karen Webb urged people to stay away from waterways because of rough seas, saying four men had to be saved after their boat capsized on the Central Coast.
"Last night we had four men enter a small boat up in the Brisbane Water area at 11:30pm - the boat capsized," she said.
"Fortunately those people were rescued by good Samaritans nearby, but that was very reckless and unnecessary, and put lives at risk unnecessarily."
Police are also looking into footage of a man riding a jetski.
"We are investigating after a video surfaced online yesterday of a man jet skiing in floodwaters on the Central Coast, which is behaviour so reckless I can barely comprehend it," Assist Comm Webb said.
In a separate incident this morning, a 16-year-old boy who was trapped between debris in waist-deep water after falling into the Allynbrook River about 9am this morning had been rescued by police.
"The teen was in the water for almost two hours before specialist SES officers were able to free him and safely return him to the riverbank. He's since been taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs."
Bureau of Meteorology state manager Jane Golding said the worst was yet to come as the east coast low moved further south.
The far north coast towns of Byron Bay, Pottsville and Kingscliffe copped almost 300mm of rain yesterday while the Mid North Coast received 250mm.
"What we are seeing now is the system intensifying," she said.
"For the Sydney and the Central Coast area it is really the next 12 hours of most concern and then the focus shifts down towards the south coast of New South Wales … during tonight and tomorrow, we could see similar rainfall rates to what we have seen up north."
She warned a king tide combined with an average swell of 5m with waves up to 8m could cause coastal erosion similar to that seen at Collaroy on the northern beaches in 2016.
"The coastal erosion is really today and tomorrow, will be the main danger period, because it is really the height of the waves, the power of the waves coming in from the east which erodes the land."
More than 19,000 homes are without power according to provider Endeavour Energy and there are also a significant number of homes without power on the Ausgrid network.
The rain brought celebrations on the south coast with locals applauding emergency services following news that the massive Currowan Fire has been extinguished after burning for more than 70 days.
"As of 8pm tonight, the Currowan Fire burning in the Shoalhaven has been set to out," NSW Rural Fire Service announced on Facebook on Saturday night. The blaze burnt for 74 days and across 499,621 hectares, spanning right across the region and spreading to neighbouring councils including Eurobodalla, Wingecarribee and Queanbeyan Palerang.
A total of 312 homes were destroyed and 173 were damaged.
"Tremendous work by firefighters and residents saw 1889 homes saved," the RFS said.
Locals expressed their thanks to those involved in battling the blaze. Almost a dozen fire trucks took a lap of honour at the Nowra Showground on Saturday night.
But while the rain is welcome, especially for towns that had been surrounded by bushfires, there is little joy for the drought-stricken west of the state.
Some towns will receive storms with reasonable rain - although nothing like what the coast can expect - and some merely isolated showers.
The bureau said that west of the Great Dividing Range the rainfall would be scattered.