Malcolm Tester

Weather fears lurk over Coffs

AS the North Coast bore the brunt of today's wild low pressure system, fears were again realised locally that a March 31-style inundation could be looming.

Owners of low lying property were quick to request sand bags from the State Emergency Service in Coffs Harbour as falls of well over 100mm over the past 24 hours were reported across the region.

Since leaving a trail of destruction at Lennox Head, producing a tornado, heavy rain, hail and flash flooding, the low pressure has slowly moved south. 

Tracked on the bureau's radar, it was centred off the coast of Wooli at 1.30pm, with forecasters fearing it could arc back onshore and hit the Coffs Coast.

SES Coffs Harbour local controller Bob White said a close eye has been kept on Coffs Creek and the Orara, Bellinger and Nambucca Rivers.

However, Mr White said a moderately dry start to winter has limited the runoff from heavy rain.

"Because it has been relatively dry in recent weeks a lot of the rain is being soaked straight into the ground, that is good news as far as our catchments are concerned," Mr White said.

"Even still there are a lot of nervous home and business owners out there who are taking the precaution of gathering sand bags in the event this system does bring torrential rain."

"If the heavier rains keep up then we have reason to be concerned, but for now will continue to monitor the situation," he said.

At midday flows in Coffs Creek had risen to 0.33 metres in the city centre and 1.19 rising at the creek mouth.

The Bellinger River at Bellingen stood at 0.78m.

The Kalang River rose steadily to 0.26m at Urunga on the run out tide. 

While the Nambucca River at Bowraville was steady at 0.68m. 

A sizeable high tide of 1.41 metres is predicted after midnight tomorrow morning. The next high tide after that will come on morning.

The Bureau of Meteorology expects the low pressure system will work its way further out to sea this weekend, with heavy rain clearing on Saturday afternoon.

All concerns rest with just how much rain it will dump in the Coffs Harbour/Dorrigo catchment in the meantime.

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