Rainfall records tumble as Wagga reaches 1000mm

WAGGA'S rain records were smashed and the city belted by storms that flooded parts of central Wagga, brought down 50 trees, caused morning traffic chaos and renewed the river flood threat.The 67.6 millimetres of rain dumped on the city in the 24 hours to 9am yesterday took annual rainfall to 1000mm, bettering 1956's 989.4mm.It also snuck past the December daily record of 65.2mm set on Boxing Day in 1988.Most of the mess caused by the tempest that descended on the city about 6pm Wednesday had been cleaned up by Wagga City Council yesterday afternoon after residents woke to chaotic scenes of flooded streets and fallen trees.During the storm, winds gusted up to 96 kilometres an hour at 6.40pm and 17.6mm of rain fell in an hour between 11pm and midnight.There was traffic gridlock on the main arterial roads into the centre of the city during the morning peak, with cars at times stretched back hundreds of metres along both Mitchelmore and Docker/Bourke streets south of Edward Street.The State Emergency Service evacuated about 20 central Wagga residents as storm water turned some streets to rivers and began invading homes.About 60 SES volunteers and volunteers from the Rural Fire Service and Volunteer Rescue Association were involved in the operation.Many central Wagga streets were closed for several hours after daybreak.With the Wagga flash flooding crisis over yesterday morning, the SES said it was most worried about the situation in Tarcutta, Tumut and Adelong where there were evacuations.The heaviest rain fell to Wagga's east, including 100mm at Batlow and 94mm at Cabramurra.As the Tarcutta Creek headed towards an unprecedented peak of 3.85 metres at noon about 25 people were evacuated yesterday morning.Wagga's Fitzmaurice Street was under water from Kincaid Street to the Wiradjuri Bridge, with water entering some business houses.The SES's regional controller, James McTavish, said he expected water coming into the Murrumbidgee River from other district creeks and rivers, such as Tarcutta Creek and Tumut River, would take the slowly receding Murrumbidgee back to about a major flood level of 9.6 or 9.7 metres from today, compared to last Monday's peak of 9.67m.The remaining high river means evacuation order for North Wagga issued last Saturday remains in force, but late yesterday the order was lifted for East Wagga and Gumly.The heavy rain was expected and prepared for, with council lowering the water level of Wollundry Lagoon by about 400mm ahead of the event to create space for more storm water.SES crews have been brought into Wagga from other parts of the State to support fatigued crews."I am confident we have the resources in Wagga to cope with what will be a busy couple of days," Mr McTavish said.

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