At least three people died after a deluge that brought chaos to Australia’s largest city Wednesday.
The downpours during Sydney’s morning commute shut down roads and snarled traffic, while strong winds knocked out power to thousands.
News.com.au described it as “a storm of epic proportions” and reported that officials conducted more than a dozen water rescues from stranded vehicles.
Sydney received 3.3 inches of rain in less than two hours – more than its typical output for the month of November, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Several locations measured more than 4 inches of rain.
It was Sydney’s wettest November day since 1984, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology.
While flooding rain was the most widespread hazard, reports emerged of damaging winds. An office building had its windows blown out by a “mini cyclone,” according to Australia’s ABC News.
The storminess was spurred by a strong zone of low pressure at the surface and higher altitudes. The clockwise flow around the pressure system drew extremely moist air off the South Pacific into Sydney, fueling the downpours.
While Sydney was soaked by rain caused by the low pressure system, a dome of high pressure over the northern part of Australia caused extreme heat, especially over northern Queensland, where records were set.
“Temperatures have been 41 to 50 degrees Farenheit above average and some records have not just been broken, they have been smashed,” reported ABC News Australia.
The extreme heat intensified brushfires in the region. About 200 fires are burning in Queensland, and, for the first time, a catastrophic fire warning was issued for parts of the region.
In Brisbane, about 450 miles north of Sydney, the temperature soared to 100.2 degrees Wednesday, its hottest day since 2014.
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