Deluge causes flash flooding, transport chaos in Melbourne
TORRENTIAL rain has lashed the city, catching many cars - and even trains - in flash flooding and delaying dozens of planes at Melbourne Airport.
The weather bureau warned the low pressure system, which drenched the capital city, leaving motorists stranded on flooded roads, was at its peak and slowly moving towards the state's east.
A major flood warning has been issued for Elsternwick Canal, with residents warned not to enter flooded areas.
Every Melbourne train line has been affected, with Metro asking passengers to delay travel if possible.
VicRoads has urged motorists to drive with caution with many areas experiencing flooding.
One lane has been closed outbound on the Monash Freeway at High St, Glen Iris, due to water on the road.
Among other roads flooded include the West Gate Freeway outbound Kings Way entry ramp, Albert Rd at Canterbury Rd, Queens Rd between Kings Way and York Street at South Melbourne.
Dozens of other roads - including Clarendon St, Centre Rd in Bentleigh East. Hawthorn Rd in Brighton East and St Kilda Rd - have also been affected by flooding.
Severe flooding has been reported in many suburbs including St Kilda, Prahran, Brighton, Caulfield Bentleigh East, Elsternwick, Carrum, Belgrave, Dromana and South Melbourne.
The Sandringham line has been shut down due to flooding near Prahran railway station.
Dozens of flights have been delayed at Melbourne Airport as visibility dropped to 100m and wind gusts of up to 95km/h were recorded at 3pm.
Airfield staff were forced to retreat from the tarmac as the risk of lightning strikes heightened just before 3pm.
"We've had a few gaps in the weather where we've been able to get some flights out," an airport spokesman said.
But he said they were now trying to catch up with the backlog.
Dozens of planes have been circling the airport waiting to land for at least an hour. Some have been forced to be redirected to Canberra, Adelaide and Sydney as their fuel became low.
At least six Virgin Australia flights expected to arrive at Melbourne later tonight from Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide and have been cancelled.
Since 9am, 53mm had fallen over the airport.
"Melbourne Airport one of the wettest areas across the state," bureau duty forecaster Michael Efron said. "A lot of flights are delayed.
"Looking at the radar now, the thunderstorm activity started to peak across Melbourne about 4pm.
"The worst is over Melbourne at the moment. It will ease into the evening, but eastern Victoria is still at risk as it heads that way."
In the hour to 3.30pm, SES VIC received 163 calls for help as floodwaters threatened homes and trees fell across roads in the southeastern suburbs.
"We're expecting them to increase as the storm continues," an SES spokeswoman said.
Mr Efron said the thunderstorm drenching the capital city was the "remnants" of the system in Central Australia earlier this week.
He said revellers planning on hitting the city tonight, may want to change their plans, with showers and storms expected into the evening.
"We've got severe thunderstorm activity across the melbourne area extending into northern victoria as well as west Gippsland," he said.
"With that thunderstorm activity we have seen flash flooding across much of southern Melbourne, around St Kilda, Elwood and Elsternwick.
"Some of the rainfall totals we have seen have been in excess of 50mm.
"In the Seymour area we have had 68mm since 9am."
He said the heaviest falls across the state were recorded in St Kilda, with 26mm falling in the 30 minutes up to 3.30pm, while 40mm dumped on Mt Macedon in the half-hour to 4pm.
Mr Efron said the conditions were like what you would see in Darwin in the NT, with another humid night ahead.
"It's as a result of northerly winds transporting very moist air across southeastern Australia from the tropics," he said.
"Conditions in Melbourne today are very similar to what you would see in Darwin at this time of year. A combination of high temperatures and humidity as well.
"The humidity won't drop until tomorrow morning."
Earlier, the bureau predicted a humid and cloudy day with a top temperature of 32 and winds of up to 35km per hour.