Cars swept away as wild weather floods Hobart
UPDATED 5am: EVACUATION centres have been set up and emergency crews are dealing with hundreds of calls for help as southern Tasmania continues to be slammed by a storm of incredible fury.
Hobart copped the brunt of an extreme weather event overnight, with motorists being advised to avoid unnecessary travel this morning as authorities are faced with a massive clean-up.
At current estimates, Hobart received 126mm of rain to 4am and more is expected today.
The Hobart Rivulet broke its banks at the corner of Campbell and Collins streets about 2am, resulting in the closure to the lower part of the CBD.
Council officials are still trying to determine what streets will be closed to motorists as the early peak hour begins.
Earlier yesterday evening, authorities reported the rivulet had risen to unprecedented levels, breaking its banks and swamping vast areas of South Hobart and the CBD.
While that subsided in the early hours of the morning, fast-flowing water downstream saw it then break its 100-year-old banks at the corner of Collins and Campbell before spilling into Macquarie St and right through to the waterfront.
At least six parked cars were swept aside as the raging torrent made its way to the docks.
Hobart City Council workers on the scene could only watch helplessly at the force of the water took everything in its path.
A worker, who would not be named, said he had seen a similar event once before in the 1950s.
While some roads were blocked off early in the evening, police are continuing to monitor the situation.
The rivulet is expected to peak and break its banks again this morning and council workers said they could not predict whether more flash flooding was likely.
They said residents on the ground floors of the lower area of the CBD had been notified of the situation, but were not deemed to be in harm's way.
The State Emergency Service has set up evacuation centres for those who cannot remain in their homes because of storm damage.
"Emergency services have received hundreds of calls for assistance - wind damage to roofs and sheds and trees blown over," police said in a statement issued in the early hours of this morning.
"There have been flash-flooding events in Blackmans Bay, Kingston, Sandy Bay and the Hobart CBD.
"SES crews have been triaging calls and responding to the most urgent. Crews are continuing to work through requests for assistance."
Roads are significantly affected by floodwaters and road closures include;
The lower end of Macquarie St, Davey St between Campbell and Argyle St
Argyle between Campbell and Burnett
Brooker Hwy between Brisbane and Warwick
Channel Hwy between Browns Road and Beach Road
Risdon Rd, Morrison Street between Murray and Castray
Sandy Bay Road between Waimea and Derwent Water Avenues
Many other roads are also affected by floodwaters and debris.
Emergency services have received hundreds of calls for assistance - wind damage to roofs and sheds and trees blown over.
There have been flash flooding events in Blackmans Bay, Kingston, Sandy Bay and the Hobart CBD.
SES crews have been triaging calls and responding to the most urgent. Crews are continuing to work through requests for assistance.
For assistance call:
Life-threatening emergencies 000
Police non-emergencies 131444
EARLIER: MORE heavy rain, strong winds and possible flooding is forecast across parts of Tasmania as a wild night of weather caused havoc overnight.
The storm affected flights, caused power outages and flooding, swept away cars, uprooted trees and contributed to road crashes.
Hobart copped a deluge with 79mm of rain in just five hours causing flash flooding across the city. Flooding hit Salamanca, Collins St next to the Royal Hobart Hospital and the New Town Rivulet also burst its banks across Risdon Rd near the Brooker Highway, which was also flooded near Cleary's Gates.
Cars were swept down the road and left flooded as the Hobart Rivulet broke its banks, flooding Collins and Campbell Streets. The flooding also set off sirens across the CBD.
Water also inundated the University of Tasmania Engineering building, with dramatic footage captured by Bryce Cui (see below).
At 10.30pm, about 14,000 homes were without power around Hobart, Kingston, Blackmans Bay, Tasman Peninsula, South Arm, Bruny Island, Berriedale, Cygnet and Derwent Valley areas due to the wild weather.
At 11.20pm, Hobart had recorded 94.4mm since 9am and higher up the slopes on kunanyi Mt Wellington 137mm had fallen.
TasNetworks crews have been busy trying to restore power and updates can be found on its website.
The Rheban Rd Bridge at Orford was flooded while Highland Lakes Rd and Poatina Rd in the Central Highlands were closed due to snow.
SES assistant director Leon Smith said a Southern Regional Operations Centre was established last night to monitor calls.
By 10.30pm more than 50 calls for assistance had been made around the southern area to deal with to dislodged sheds and roofing as well as trees falling on to buildings.
Lightning, thunder and hail was also recorded around the Hobart area last night.
A Hobart airport spokesman said one Qantas flight was forced to return to Melbourne with three other inbound flights delayed. He said this had also caused delays to departing flights.
There was also a three-car crash on the Tasman Highway at Mornington last night.
The parched East Coast was hit hardest by the rain yesterday, with some serious drenching to continue today.
A severe weather warning for damaging winds of up to 100km/h will remain active across most of the state today. Heavy rain is also forecast for the east and southeast early today, with flash flooding possible, including for Hobart.
A flood watch is active for catchments in the North, NorthEast, East Coast, central and southeast areas, with a minor flood warning active for the Huon River. Thunderstorms are again forecast.
A deep low centred off Tasmania's south east brought steady rain, with Buckland recording 106mm, Nugent 102mm, Triabunna 84mm and Maria Island 82mm.
Other sites to receive significant falls have been Grove (53mm), Little Swanport (47mm), Campania (45mm), Friendly Beaches (33mm), Fingal (30mm), Dunalley (31mm) and Tunnack (28mm).
The highest recorded wind gusts were on Mt Wellington (132km/h), Maria Island (107km/h), Bruny Island (106km/h), Campania (89km/h) Hobart (85km/h) Bushy Park (80km/h) and Dunalley (72km/h).
MORE EMERGENCY INFORMATION
To report life-threatening emergencies, dial triple-0 (000)
To report flood and storm damage or to request SES assistance, call 132 500
Visit the State Emergency Service website www.ses.tas.gov.au
Visit the TasALERT website: www.tasalert.com
For current river levels and weather conditions, check the BoM website: www.bom.gov.au/tas/
Listen to your local ABC radio station for updates.
For more information on preparing for flood, visit www.ses.tas.gov.au
Current reported road closures are listed on the Tasmania Police website: www.police.tas.gov.au
BoM supervising meteorologist David Matthews said the East, South East and Central parts of the state were expected to receive 30-60mm today, with isolated rainfall totals up to 80mm.
"There's a low pressure system that's formed off the East Coast of Tasmania producing strong and gusty south to south-easterly winds, which are bringing heavy rainfall into the eastern half of the state," he said.
"Strong and dangerous flows and rapid rivulet rises are expected in small creeks and catchments in locations that receive heavy rainfall. "We will see the rain begin to ease during [this] afternoon."
At 10pm last night the Huon River was at 1.9m and steady, 1m below minor flood level.
Mr Smith said crews were on standby for any possible issues relating to flooding.
"Nothing of alarm is happening at this stage, we expect it to be fairly benign ... but we'll monitor the situation."
Debbie Armstrong, who owns NVS hairdressing in Huonville, spent yesterday making preparations to protect her salon after losing everything during a similar weather event in June 2016.
"We've lifted everything that might be on flood level up to bench height, emptied cupboards, and put furniture on milk crates," she said.
The wild weather has also impacted "tent city" at the Hobart Showground. Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania chief executive Scott Gadd said he had to open buildings for people to shelter in after tents were inundated by yesterday's downpour.
A road weather alert is also active across the Central Plateau, Midlands, East Coast, upper Derwent Valley and South East today. Showers are forecast in Hobart tomorrow but will ease Sunday, with a cloudy weekend forecast for Launceston.