Victoria Sweeps from Bushfire Emergency to Flood Crisis in One Week

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Over the course of the past week, Victoria has endured two clashing weather extremes. On one hand, calamitous storms, with their promise of potential respite for an area plagued by fiery destruction, yet on the other, they have unleashed torrents of floodwater, leading to life-threatening conditions.

At the advent of the week, several bushfires ran rampant, reaching emergency warning levels throughout Gippsland. This tense situation compelled the locals to evacuate their homes, in deference to impending danger.

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However, the state of affairs promptly shifted from scorching flames to perilous flooding due to an abrupt and substantial downfall of rainfall in less than 24 hours. This drastic transformation transformed the Victoria Emergency warning map from a blazing inferno to a flood watch zone.

Amidst the rising floodwaters in Tinamba and Newry, located roughly 200km east of Melbourne, thousands of residents were instructed that returning to their homes remained hazardous. The current evacuation warnings underscore the continuing threat to safety. Lake Glenmaggie, releasing a staggering 56,000 megalitres of water daily, remains a significant factor in this persisting concern.

Relevant official alerts on VicEmergency have flagged Tinamba, Tinamba West, and Newry, issuing an immediate evacuation warning for residents, reaffirming the ongoing risk of the situation.

Major flood alerts have been put into effect for the Macalister, Mitchell, Ovens and King Rivers. One instance is the Macalister River downstream of Lake Glenmaggie, which is currently experiencing major flooding, having reached a peak water level of 6.96 metres around 1.30am on Thursday 05 October. Although a minor reprieve is expected as the water level is likely to recede gradually over the day, it is forecasted to remain alarmingly high due to planned discharges from Lake Glenmaggie.

The Mitchell River catchment experienced up to 80mm of rainfall in the span of 24 hours, causing the river to rise to 3.88 metres, well above the minor flood level. It is expected to surge further, reaching major flood levels by late Thursday morning.

Residents have been severely cautioned to steer clear of waterways and avoid traversing flooded areas by car. Furthermore, regions recently impacted by fires are urged to be wary of debris, like ash, soil, trees, and rocks, contaminating water bodies. The heavy rainfall has only increased the likelihood of landslides and scattered debris on roads.

As the tumultuous weather conditions ensue, city folk in Sydney cope with their fair share of chaos, with over 100 domestic flights cancelled due to damaging winds. South-westerly wind gusts, with speeds reaching upward of 90 km/h, are expected to persist across parts of the Snowy Mountains and the South Coast districts until the early hours of Thursday afternoon.