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Australia’s weekend weather: west battles bushfires as storms and rain forecast for most of east coast

·5 min read

Most of Australia’s east coast will be blanketed by rain and thunderstorms leading into the weekend, while the west can expect continuing dry, windy conditions that have already sparked bushfires.

Senior meteorologist Jackson Browne said the nation was seeing a “mixed bag” of weather conditions coming into the weekend.

“We’ve got three high-impact weather situations occurring: storms in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, a low pressure system in eastern Victoria and southern New South Wales and fire in Western Australia,” he said.

“La Nina will be with us for many months of this summer.”

Browne said hot, dry and windy conditions would persist in the coming days for parts of southern Australia and would be “very conducive” to fire weather.

“We have a slew of weather warnings for WA,” he said.

Related: La Nina 2021 weather event declared for Australia’s summer

“It’s reaching up to extreme fire danger in inland central WA, but there’s also ten districts with fire dangers in the south-west… there’s quite a lot of fire activity.”

There were currently two emergency bushfire warnings in place in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste national park and in Yallingup, north of Margaret River.

Firefighters were battling to contain the bushfires, with more than 1,100 hectares so far burned.

The out-of-control Leeuwin-Naturaliste national park blaze started about 9.50am on Wednesday, was moving quickly in a north-westerly direction and had escalated due to a heavy fuel load, Emergency WA said.

Along Quininup Road in Yallingup, a bushfire was spreading rapidly in a southerly direction.

Browne said the heat would gradually ease in west and south-west WA with cooler westerly winds over the weekend but it would be a “short reprieve”.

“Heat will build across northern WA and central Australia over the weekend, and with the reservoir of heat rebuilding, wherever it moves over next week will dictate more fire conditions,” he said. Browne said parts of South Australia, parts of WA and south-east Australia would face the worst conditions.

In Perth, westerly winds blowing off the ocean would dial conditions back to their mid-twenties come Monday, and the city would miss out on most of the heat that builds next week, Browne said.

Related: Western Australia bushfires: two blazes rage in Margaret River

But with a heat reservoir driving fire weather in from central Australia, the state was “not out of the woods yet”.

In Queensland, a severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for southern parts of the state with a trough moving through the area and parts of northern New South Wales.

Browne said storms would probably push into Brisbane late Thursday and may interrupt the first Ashes Test at the Gabba, but there would be a relaxation of conditions from Friday as the storms moved south to NSW.

Parts of Queensland were hit with severe storms on Wednesday, causing flooding in the state’s south-east.

A 75-year-old woman died after her car was submerged in flood waters in Pullenvale, West Brisbane.

Emergency services responded to reports that a sedan had been swept off a street and into a nearby creek by moving flood waters.

Deputy premier, Steven Miles, expressed his condolences to the woman’s loved ones.

“Every Queensland life lost is tragic, and tragic for the family involved,” he said. “It won’t take a lot of rain to see flooding and we just say over and over again, if it’s flooded, forget it, It’s not worth it.”

Related: In Australia’s wet weather ‘tis the season for spiders, mozzies, mice and mould

This was the third flood-related death in Queensland in a month.

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Meteorology issued flood warnings for multiple catchments, including the Suttor River, Buloo River, Moonie River, Condamine and Balonne River, among others.

In Central Queensland, Baralaba was expecting its biggest flood in a decade, with water levels along Dawson’s River expected to peak at 11.8m on Thursday, after 60mm of rainfall in 24 hours.

Condamine was experiencing its worst flood since 2013, after the Condamine River peaked at 12.25m on Tuesday.

Browne said the severe weather would move to the south coast of NSW, with flash and riverine flooding totals expected between 70 and 100 mm as tropical moisture pushed in from the Coral Sea.

Victoria’s Gippsland region and the NSW south coast would be facing a “double whammy” of low driving rain and moisture, with terrain acting as a sponge and squeezing every drop out of rain mass, Browne said.

“It’s looking to be a dangerous situation there for the next 36 hours,” he said.

“We will see a low affecting parts of the south coast and spread as far as Byron Bay, Gippsland and Bairnsdale.

Related: NSW has wettest November in 121 years of records

While the Gippsland catchment was partially saturated, unlike rivers in northern NSW and southern Queensland, it was not yet in flood.

In NSW, parts of western Sydney, the Hunter, the Illawarra and Southern Tablelands, the Central West Slopes and Plains, and the south-west Slopes, have experienced heavy rain and damaging winds this week.

Jackson said Sydney wouldn’t see rain begin to clear until Saturday. The city should expect showers and a chance of storms on Friday.

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