Flood warnings ahead of forecast downpour


Heavy rainfall has sparked a flash flood warning for Wangaratta, with dozens of cars and trucks left stranded on the Hume Freeway at nearby Byawatha.

The alert has come as SES crews responded to the stranded vehicles around 10am.

The worst rain is still to come in the south of the state, despite a very wet peak hour commute for Melburnians.

Swathes of the city and Victoria are urged to brace for potential flash flooding, with about a month’s worth of rain expected today.




The Hume Fwy is closed in both directions at Barnawartha, essentially between Wangaratta and Chiltern. VicTraffic says people should avoid non-essential driving.

“Really challenging conditions out there. We’re just sort of at the mercy of mother nature at the moment,” VicTraffic spokesman Chris Miller said.

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Already more than 20mm has fallen at Melbourne Airport, with the main rain front still to come later this morning.

Sandringham and Altona recorded 27mm this morning.

Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Rod Dickson said more than 100mm had been recorded before 9am today around the Wangaratta and Myrtleford areas.

In Melbourne, the west saw more rainfall than the east, with up to 30mm in some places.

“But there’s certainly more to come,” he said.

Potentially damaging winds and some hail is possible later in the day, particularly for the east of the state.

Another 20-50mm forecast for south of the state on Friday, and possibly more than 100mm over the Gippsland Coast and Otway Ranges.

“This low pressure system that’s developing across Victoria’s being fed by very moist air coming down from the tropics and as we see the rain develop and thunderstorms, they’re really feeding on that moisture,” he said.

“The risk is pretty much statewide with the heavy rain today.”

Montague St under the Westgate has already seen flash flooding, and a serious crash has closed the Nepean Highway at Mount Martha, urging further calls for motorists to drive to the conditions.

And on the Peninsula, a truck has become stuck on a collapsed corner of road in Dromana.

Two left hand lanes are closed on the Ring Road near Plenty Rd due to flooding, with the speed reduced to 60kmh in the area.

Flooding has also been reported at Victoria St in Footscray; Maribyrnong Rd in Maribyrnong; and outbound traffic on the Westgate near Williamstown Rd.

The Beechworth Bakery in Beechworth has suffered damage from the deluge, but the main room in the popular bakehouse is still running.

“A lot of the water is coming in from the roof,” employee Cody said.

The SES has received 40 calls for assistance across the state, mostly for fallen trees.

A huge tree fell onto the road near Flagstaff Station around 7.30am, delaying traffic in the area.

Keilor in northwest Melbourne received about 14mm within the space of about half an hour early on Thursday, Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Dean Stewart said.

Coldstream northeast of the city has had more than 20mm since today, with most of that recorded within an hour this morning.

Melbourne’s average December rainfall is 59mm, and more than 20mm has fallen today across several suburbs including Laverton, Coldstream and Melbourne Airport

Moorabbin has seen 15.8mm, Viewbank 17.9mm and Ferny Creek 7.6mm in this morning’s downpour.

Across the state, falls of between 30 and 50mm are forecast but the northeast could also receive up to double this.

The rain is thanks to Cyclone Owen over northern Australia.

Wangaratta had one of the highest rainfalls, with 50mm yesterday and overnight.

A severe weather warning covers much of the state, and greater Melbourne, Goulburn, Barwon and parts of West Gippsland are subject to a flood watch.

A road weather alert has also been issued for Melbourne, with the State Emergency Service urging drivers to take care and reduce speed.

“Many places will have a decent chance of seeing their wettest day this year,” forecaster James Taylor earlier said.

The wet weather is set to continue on Friday, with up to 20mm expected for Melbourne and smaller rainfall totals over the weekend.

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