SEVERE thunderstorms ravaged NSW at the start of the week and now parts of the state are on flood watch.
In past days in the Central West, long paddocks previously crowded with stock are now carriageways for disc sets, tines and seeding rigs.
An intense storm outbreak occurred early in the week as an upper-level low pressure system moved across the state’s interior from south to north.
The low interacted with warm and moisture-laden air flowing in from the Tasman Sea, resulting in widespread and intense storms over the eastern half of the state.
Some of the more severe storms occurred over the Central West and North West Slopes and Plains, near the upper low.
Dubbo experienced flash flooding on Monday after 69mm of rain fell between midday and 5pm.
This was the heaviest rain since 2013 and the heaviest for March in 17 years.
Hail covered the ground in and around Dubbo, with some hailstones the size of golf balls.
By 9am Monday, 20mm of rain had dumped on Dubbo, by lunchtime the city and surrounding areas had received the March monthly average, and by 4pm 72mm had drains backing up.
Stock agents, vendors and buyers attending the weekly sheep and lamb sale at the Troy saleyards were caught out as hail stripped leaves off trees.
Staff of nearby Fletcher International Exports abattoir offered dry clothing to several people drenched by the downpours.
Dubbo State Emergency Service personnel were called out to some 50 Dubbo homes that had been inundated with flooding water from the drenching.
Meanwhile surrounding areas such as Wellington received 34mm, Dunedoo 24, Manildra 35, just 12mm at Kandos but 39 at Hill End, Nyngan 18, Cowra 17, Forbes 22 and 23mm at Condobolin.
Some Illawarra areas caught 10 to 70mm.
Further east, areas around Orange, including Forest Reefs and Blayney received 46mm spread over Monday night and Tuesday morning.
Also on Monday, Moree collected more than a month's worth of rain in one hour, when 55mm fell between 6pm and 7pm.
Parkes picked up 50mm in nine hours, its heaviest fall in three years.
More than 50mm fell on Tenterfield, most of it on Sunday and Monday, which needed it just as badly as the dry coastal valley.
Inverell recorded 88mm for the week, although that district didn’t need it as bad.
Storms continued on Tuesday and Wednesday, although the focus of the heaviest falls shifted towards the coast.
Goonengerry received 182mm during the 24 hours to 9am on Wednesday while Mullumbimby received 259mm for the week – the most in the state.
Nearby Mullumbimby had 129mm, the town’s heaviest fall since last June and half a month’s worth of rain for this time of year.
Drought has finally broken on the lower Clarence, with falls this week above 130mm around Ulmarra. Until this week the lower river had received little rain since last spring.
The mid Macleay gratefully received timely rain with more than 150mm for the week – almost as much as the fabled Mount Seaview, which recorded 177 for the seven days to Thursday.
The upper Hastings recieved more than 100mm in most places while the coast at Port Macquarie had double that. the Manning fared well too with up to 50 in the upper valley and double that downriver.
The rain-starved Hunter has mostly missed out on this system, with Scone getting 15mm for the week and the coast at Newcastle going above 60mm.
Isolated thunderstorm activity will continue over the eastern half of NSW during the remainder of this week.
The heaviest falls are likely to occur east of the ranges, thanks to a deepening trough near the coast.
Flooding is an increased risk during this week’s second half about the state’s northeast coast and adjacent ranges.
While the week started with intense storms over the slopes and plains, it could end with flooding east of the Divide.