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Australia weather: Furious flood warning for Victoria and end in sight for Queensland deluge – experts brace for terrifying outbreak of killer disease

Australia’s east coast will be battered by fresh downpours that could last for weeks – as doctors warn the flood could trigger a deadly outbreak of weather-related diseases.

Victorians are being urged to batten down the hatches, with summer storms threatening to dump mammoth rainfall totals and cause widespread flooding on Sunday and Monday.

But non-stop rain in Queensland could continue for weeks as forecasters reject the «misconception» that an El Nino summer means drought.

Now doctors are warning of the dangers of mosquito-borne diseases such as Ross River fever and Japanese encephalitis, which could explode in the wet conditions.

Australia’s east coast to be battered by fresh downpours that could last for weeks – doctors warn flood could trigger deadly outbreak of weather-related diseases

But non-stop rain in Queensland could continue for weeks as forecasters reject the «misconception» that an El Nino summer means drought.

South Australia’s chief health officer Nicola Spurrier sounded the alarm on Saturday, telling Aussies to prepare for the outbreak and watch for potential symptoms.

«Maybe fever and chills at first, but then there’s a very bad headache and then continued confusion and sometimes seizures – and then maybe unconsciousness if it’s very severe,» she said.

«It doesn’t matter where you are – if you get bitten by a mosquito, that mosquito can carry one of these diseases, and some of them are potentially fatal.»

Sky News meteorologist Alison Osborne said there was a «high chance of above-average rain across north-east and eastern Australia» before conditions begin to dry out in February.

She said an «angry» positive Southern Annular Mode (SAM) – the ring of westerly winds that hugs Antarctica – was fueling easterly winds and driving rain across Australia’s east coast.

«That’s pretty hard to predict ahead of time a few weeks out, but at the moment it’s been a big driver of rain and thunderstorms particularly in eastern Australia,» she said.

«The thing has been fluctuating positively since early December and is likely to stay that way for at least another two weeks.»

Mrs Osborne’s warning of a wet January applies to this weekend.

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting «persistent» wet weather to develop over the weekend and into next week.

South Australia’s chief health officer Nicola Spurrier sounded the alarm on Saturday when she told Aussies to prepare for the outbreak and watch for potential symptoms.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting «persistent» wet weather to develop over the weekend and into next week

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A low pressure system will develop across South Australia on Saturday with an associated band of rain and potential thunderstorms reaching Adelaide by late afternoon.

The system is forecast to reach western NSW, south-west Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania from Sunday.

The bureau’s chief meteorologist, Angus Hines, said widespread rain would affect areas of Tasmania, Victoria and «most» of NSW.

«When you combine the wet weather in the east and south with the daily thunderstorms in the north, (you’ll) be pretty hard pressed to find parts of central and eastern Australia that have a dry three-day stretch ahead of them,» he said. he said.

«Most of the country is waiting for some form of wet weather.»

The wet weather forecast comes despite an El Nino warning that has been active since September.

But Ms Osborne said it was a «very commonly held misconception» that El Nino meant reduced rainfall in the summer months.

«The impact of El Nino rain from November onwards is quite marginal across eastern Australia,» she said.

In comparison, a La Nina warning had a stronger effect on precipitation patterns, leading to higher precipitation levels and cooler temperatures.

However, from February, the moisture is forecast to dissipate, bringing «a fairly high chance of above-average temperatures and a fair chance of temperature extremes across the northern tropics and northwest».

While temperatures may not be as dramatic in areas of south-east NSW, Canberra and southern Queensland, Ms Osborne said «everywhere else is normal or unusually warm».

The threat of wildfires could also increase as drier conditions set in in February.

While the immediate threat is limited for some time after the rain, and Ms Osborne notes that «it’s quite difficult to light a wet match», the rain could also encourage the growth of new vegetation that could support fires once warmth and dryness return.

«If there is a return to drier than average conditions combined with high heat, then that can change things quickly,» she said.

While the sun shone in Victoria on Saturday, Emergency Management Commissioner Rick Nugent warned the state was braced for heavy rain on Sunday and Monday.

«We are most likely to get a total of about 150 mm of rainfall, but we could get up to 200 mm of rainfall across the state,» he told reporters.

Emergency authorities are preparing for the worst-case scenario of rain and have urged Victorians to do the same, especially if they live in flood-prone areas.

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«Especially people who stay in caravan parks and camp along streams and along waterways,» Mr Nugent said.

He said many of the state’s rivers and streams were already quite full from recent rains, making it highly likely that forecast storms could lead to flash flooding in those areas.

Victorians are being urged to batten down the hatches as summer storms threaten to dump mammoth rainfall totals and cause widespread flooding.

Emergency authorities are preparing for the worst-case scenario of rain and have urged Victorians to do the same, particularly if they live in flood-prone areas.

«The biggest risks are falling tree limbs and flash floods and please don’t drive through flood water – you’re driving a car, not a boat,» Mr Nugent said.

«We don’t want emergency personnel to have to rescue people during this event.»

Storms are expected to develop in western Victoria on Sunday morning before moving across central, north central and eastern parts of the state during the day and into Monday.

«It’s not just a one-day event,» Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Michael Efron said.

He said a trough of low pressure would initially cause widespread rain and thunderstorms in the Mallee and Wimmera districts.

According to him, up to 60 mm of rain could fall in less than an hour in some areas.

Widespread rainfall totals may reach up to 150 mm in the central and northern parts of the state and up to 200 mm in the north and northeast.

Minor to moderate flood warnings have been issued for more than a dozen watersheds.

«The amount of moisture across the state at the moment is unbelievable,» Mr Efron said.

«It’s what you would normally see in somewhere like Queensland.»

In September, the bureau officially declared an El Nino climate pattern, which typically brings drier conditions to most of the country.

Mr Efron explained that other climate factors are influencing the current wave of storms in eastern Australia, including the Southern Annular Regime and above-average sea surface temperatures in the Tasman Sea.

«Those easterly winds bring that moist air across Victoria,» he said.

«Everybody would notice that moisture and I think we’ll probably see that continue for the rest of this month.»

Emergency authorities are preparing for the worst-case scenario of rain and have urged Victorians to do the same, particularly if they live in flood-prone areas.

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The risk of flooding is said to be highest in the state’s north, but metropolitan Melbourne could face the same threat between midnight on Sunday and midday on Monday.

Victoria State Emergency Service chief operating officer Tim Wiebusch said storm fronts with a «tropical moisture association» often meant flash flooding and subsequent river flooding.

Mr Wiebusch said the risk of flooding was highest in the state’s north, but metropolitan Melbourne could face the same threat between midnight on Sunday and midday on Monday.

«We’re asking Victorians to prepare now,» he said.

“If you are staying or holidaying in the north-east of the state or the Loddon or Avoca areas, we ask that you pay attention to emergency warnings.

«We’ve already seen 20 flood rescues since the start of 2024 – that’s 20 too many.»

SES crews will set up sandbag collection points in high-risk locations such as Bendigo, Castlemaine, Campbells Creek, Heathcote and Wedderburn from Sunday.

Mr Wiebusch said more sandbag sites would be set up.

FIVE-HOUR FORECAST IN AUSTRALIA

SYDNEY

Sunday: Partly cloudy. Max 28

Monday: A chance of rain. Min21 Max29

Tuesday: Chance of rain. Min22 Max30

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Min21 Max29

Thursday: Chance of rain. Min21 Max27

BRISBANE

Sunday: Partly cloudy. Max 29

Monday: A chance of rain. Min21 Max30

Tuesday: Chance of rain. Min23 Max30

Wednesday: Chance of rain. Min23 Max31

Thursday: Partly cloudy. Min22 Max31

PERTH

Sunday: sunny. Max 35

Monday: sunny. Min22 Max35

Tuesday: sunny. Min 19 Max 33

Wednesday: sunny. Min18 Max33

Thursday: sunny. Min20 Max34

HOBART

Sunday: Chance of rain. Max 25

Monday: A chance of rain. Min16 Max20

Tuesday: Cloudy. Min14 Max23

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Min14 Max25

Thursday: Partly cloudy. Min13 Max24

MELBOURNE

Sunday: Rain. Max 27

Monday: A chance of a thunderstorm. Min20 Max23

Tuesday: Partly cloudy. Min18 Max25

Wednesday: Cloudy. Min17 Max24

Thursday: Partly cloudy. Min16 Max24

ADELAIDE

Sunday: A chance of a thunderstorm. Max 27

Monday: A chance of rain. Min17 Max24

Tuesday: Partly cloudy. Min16 Max25

Wednesday: sunny. Min15 Max26

Thursday: sunny. Min15 Max29

DARWIN

Sunday: A chance of a thunderstorm. Max 34

Monday: A chance of a thunderstorm. Min27 Max33

Tuesday: A chance of a thunderstorm. Min26 Max33

Wednesday: A chance of a thunderstorm. Min26 Max33

Thursday: A chance of a thunderstorm. Min26 Max33

CANBERRA

Sunday: Rain. Max 28

Monday: A chance of a thunderstorm. Min17 Max24

Tuesday: Showers. Min16 Max27

Wednesday: Chance of rain. Min17 Max29

Thursday: Cloudy. Min17 Max26

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

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