WILD WEATHER: Rain, strong winds batter Northern Rivers
UPDATE 3.30pm: STRONG winds are lashing the Northern Rivers coast as an inland trough makes its way south across the state bringing widespread rain.
The rainfall is expected to get heavier across the region this afternoon and this evening, but the weather is not predicted to be as severe as earlier this month, when the Wilson's River reached moderate flood level.
By noon, rain had eased on the coast and people were driving to see the heavy surf conditions on the regions beaches.
The trough is predicted to cross the NSW coast around the Illawarra later today, with the South Coast bracing for the worst of the weather.
UPDATE 12.45pm: MINOR flood warnings remain in place for the Tweed, Brunswick Valley, Richmond and Wilsons River catchments.
There is also the possibility of flash flooding across the Northern Rivers.
In the last 24 hours, Myocum has had 18mm of rain, Bangalow 14, Goonengerry 13 and Alstonville 10mm.
Strong wind warnings remain in place for the Byron coast as big gusts drive rain squalls sideways in some areas.
UPDATE, 9.45am: THE Northern Rivers is already being lashed by strong winds and rain, and the weather is expected to worsen later today.
Cape Byron recorded wind gusts of 72km/h at 9am, and Ballina recorded gusts of 61km/h at 9.30am.
The Bureau of Meteorology also said the North Coast can expect large and powerful surf conditions in the afternoon and evening, which will be hazardous for coastal activities such as rock fishing, swimming and surfing.
UPDATE Saturday 4.30pm: THE Bureau of Meteorology has issued the next marine wind warning summary and the gale warning for the Byron coast is still in place.
Other regions likely to be affected by gale force winds include: Coffs Coast, Macquarie Coast and Hunter Coast.
Flood watches still remain in place for the Tweed Valley, Brunswick Valley and Richmond and Wilsons River Valleys.
The conditions expected around the Northern Rivers tomorrow are:
Lismore - Minimum temperatures of 13 and a max of 22. Cloudy with a very high (near 100%) chance of rain. Light winds. Possible rainfall of 15 to 35mm.
Evans Head - Minimum of 15 and maximum temperatures of 23. Possible rainfall of 35-100mm. Cloudy with a very high (95%) chance of rain. Chance of a thunderstorm and heavy falls possible. Large and powerful surf conditions expected in the afternoon and evening, so coastal activities such as crossing bars by boat and rock fishing are expected to be hazardous.
Ballina - 15 degrees overnight and a maximum daytime temperature of 23 degrees. Possible rainfall of 35 to 100mm. See Evans Head weather conditions above for what to expect in Ballina.
Byron Bay - Minimum of 18 and maximum of 22 degrees. Possible rainfall of 40 to 100mm. Same weather conditions to Evans Head (above) expected.
Murwillumbah - Minimum of 14 degrees and maximum of 23 Possible rainfall of 40 to 120mm. Same weather conditions to Evans Head (above) expected.
For more information about this low read below.
UPDATE Saturday 2pm: A gale warning has been issued for the Byron coast and the region remains on flood watch.
A trough extending from southern Queensland into northern NSW will deepen into a low later tomorrow.
This low is expected to move south to south-east during Sunday and cross the central and southern parts of the coast and intensify into an East Coast Low.
There is a 40% chance of rain on the Northern Rivers today and 95% tomorrow.
There is a chance of a thunderstorm tomorrow and heavy falls are predicted.
Wind will start out light tomorrow and then intensify to 35 to 50km/h.
Flood watches remain in place for the river systems listed below.
UPDATE Friday 3.30PM: THE Bureau of Meteorology has issued a flood watch for local rivers.
A trough will move over northern NSW today and deepen into a low later on Saturday.
The low is expected to move south during Sunday and cross central or southern parts of the coast and intensify into an East Coast Low before moving to the south during Monday.
Rain associated with the low is expected to develop across the northwest of the state later today, before extending east and south towards the coast during the weekend.
There is still uncertainty surrounding the exact timing and location of the East Coast Low.
At this stage there is a greater than 70% chance of flooding as well as local flash flooding along the following river valleys from Sunday onwards:
1. Tweed Valley - minor flooding
2. Brunswick Valley - minor flooding
3. Richmond and Wilsons River - minor to moderate flooding
This Flood Watch means that people living or working along rivers and creeks must monitor the latest weather forecasts and warnings and be ready to move to higher ground should flooding develop. Flood Warnings will be issued if Minor Flood Level is expected to be exceeded at key sites along the main rivers for which the Bureau of Meteorology provides a flood warning service. Across NSW over 70% of Flood Watches are followed by flooding within the catchment.
FloodSafe advice is available at www.ses.nsw.gov.au
For emergency assistance call the SES on telephone number 132 500.
For life threatening emergencies, call 000 immediately.
This flood watch will be reviewed by Saturday at 2pm.
UPDATE Friday 12:45PM: LOCALISED rainfall of up to 150mm plus is predicted for the Northern Rivers, with the majority of it expected to fall on Sunday.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Katarina Kovacevic said the low pressure system would develop later on Saturday over the northern inland of New South Wales.
"As that low moves south during Sunday, it will cross central and southern parts of the coast and intensify," she said.
"With that, we've got rain associated with the low. That will begin in the north west part of the state later today but extend to the north coast during Saturday, increasing on Sunday."
The Northern Rivers region, on average, is expected to receive about 100mm of rainfall during the weather event.
"The bureau is continuing to closely monitor the situation and will issue any warnings closer to the impact of the event," she said.
The two low pressure systems so far - one that caused havoc across the state a fortnight ago and the other expected to hit this weekend - are just two of an average seven per year along the east coast.
Ms Kovacevic said the chance of another one occurring was high.
"We do see on average seven of these events along the east coast a year," she said.
"Whether or not if affects the north coast is hard to say."
Ms Kovacevic said there were several key differences between this weekend's weather event and the weather event of a fortnight ago that resulted in widespread flooding, damaged roads and flood rescues.
"Current guidance is suggesting this (low) will move away from New South Wales more rapidly than the last event," she said.
"This generally means the potential for widespread impact is less.
"Rainfall totals for this event are expected to be much lower than the one we had earlier this month."
Ms Kovacevic said the caveat was many catchments were still wet, so smaller amounts of rain could potentially lead to riverine flooding.
She said the inundation and erosion associated with the last event wasn't predicted for this weekend, due to a lack of king tides.
"Tides are expected to be 20-30cm lower and we're also expecting smaller wave heights."
UPDATE, Friday 11.30am: EXTREMELY large swells and dangerous surf conditions will keep most of the North Coast's beaches closed over the weekend, Northern NSW Lifeguard co-ordinator Scott McCartney said.
He said the message was for people to stay out of the water with waves predicted to reach up to 10ft in some areas, with large amounts of white wash and strong rips.
"It's going to be extremely dangerous," he said. "There's going to be a lot of white wash, and a lot of big waves and a lot of dangerous surf.
"Nearly every beach is going to have really large waves, a lot of water moving around generating a lot of rips.
"We're looking at closing our beaches for the majority of the storm until it does get a bit more calm."
Mr McCartney said of particular concern to lifeguards was people returning to the beaches in the days following the heavy rain and wind, when conditions would still be extremely dangerous for swimmers and inexperienced surfers.
"Our biggest fear is probably the day or two after, when the sun does come out again, but the swell and water movement is all still there," he said.
"Even knee-deep, it doesn't take much, one big swell, one big set, can sweep someone off their feet and take them out to sea."
Mr McCartney said if the low pressure system hits like last time, it would produce almost identical surf conditions.
"Looking at this storm, I would say it could possibly get up to 10ft again, which is quite a problem if people try to go swimming," he said.
"Not only are they putting their lives at risk, they're putting their rescuer's lives at risk."
"From today onwards, it's not worth going into the water."
Professional lifeguards will be on duty at Byron Bay Main Beach, and anyone considering getting in the water is encouraged to talk to them first.
As it's currently the off-season, no volunteer surf life savers will be patrolling other Northern Rivers beaches, and swimmers and encouraged to stay out of the water.
EARLIER: NORTHERN Rivers SES are tracking this weekend's weather forecast and making sure members are "poised and ready" should another severe weather event occur.
Richmond-Tweed SES spokeswoman Janet Pettit said last fortnight's downpour, which saw localised falls of up to 400mm in some areas, had left the region prone to flooding.
"We've got wet catchments from the last event," she said.
"But we're not sure where this low is going to impact the most, so we're just monitoring it to see where it goes."
Ms Pettit said there were no current weather warnings in place, but SES would be receiving an update on the situation from the Bureau of Meteorology in the next hour.
"There will be rain," she said.
"We're recommending people monitor the forecast and review their safety plans."
"We just want to stress people don't drive, walk or ride through the flood water.
"Flood water can be a killer.
"It can look calm on top or shallow but you just don't know what's underneath.
"It doesn't take much water and you're not only putting your life at risk, but those of others and the people out there saving you."
For emergency help in floods and storms, ring your local SES Unit on 132 500.
For life threatening situations phone Triple 0.