People hold umbrellas.
Large parts of NSW are told to anticipate dangerous weather conditions over the Christmas weekend. Image by David Gray/AAP PHOTOS
  • flood

Storms smash Sydney, with flooding rescues under way

December 24, 2023

Flash flooding, hail and severe winds have smashed large parts of NSW on Christmas Eve, with warnings of more to come over the Christmas period.

Storm supercells bringing up 150mm of rain and 5cm hailstones have hammered parts of Sydney and the NSW coastline.

The NSW SES on Sunday evening said it had been called to 94 incidents over a three-hour period in Sydney alone, with reports of buildings, roads and homes flooded.

The SES said there are reports of 30 townhouses being inundated by flash flooding in Pagewood, in the eastern suburbs.

“NSW SES is urging people to be safe on the roads as many have been cut by floodwaters,” the SES warned.

A fast water rescue crew was called to pull a driver from their flooded vehicle on Anzac Parade at Kensington, also in the city’s east.

It was one of 12 flood rescues undertaken across metropolitan Sydney as the severe thunderstorm impacted the city.

The unsettled weather started on Sunday and is expected to run through to Boxing Day, with much of the eastern coastline at risk.

“It’s always a challenge with severe thunderstorms,” NSW State Emergency Service commander Greg Swindells said on Sunday.

“The best advice I can give for people will be to monitor the Bureau of Meteorology website and also the NSW SES website for any severe thunderstorm warnings.

“They will be issued in a timely fashion and they will give instructions to people on what actions they should take.”

Mr Swindells said isolated flash flooding was likely, but more widespread flooding in the state’s north was not expected.

Lismore in the Northern Rivers region is still recovering close to two years after it was devastated by severe floods.

“It’s natural to be anxious and having anxiety in regards to the weather,” Mr Swindells said.

“I can assure you that the information that we have, we’re not expecting any riverine flooding. 

“Our greatest risk here is for localised flash flooding, and also the hail and severe winds that we may see, particularly in the Northern Rivers.”

Mr Swindells advised people across NSW to take care on the roads and not drive through flood waters. 

“We’re asking for people to be alert but not alarmed,” he said.

“We want everyone to have a safe Christmas so stay safe, look after yourself and just just be aware of the current situation around you.”

Brisbane also copped a heavy downpour on Sunday afternoon as the storms moved east over southern Queensland.

The weather bureau’s Angus Hines said 10cm hailstones were seen in Queensland’s southeast corner and into the northern parts of NSW.

“It just shows the potential in the atmosphere at the moment for generating these large storms,” he said.

“We hold onto that potential for the next couple of days.”

Western Victoria can also expect storms to develop into Sunday evening.

Mr Hines said the wild weather will be widespread across the eastern seaboard for Christmas Day.

“There’s a chance of thunder or maybe even severe storms for Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. All of those capitals seeing a risk of thundery weather on Christmas Day,” he said.