Bad news for farmers despite rain downpour
Meteorologists expect a downpour of rain in barren parts of the state during the next 48 hours will not be enough to break the worst drought in living memory.
A thick rain system has moved over NSW off the back of ex-tropical cyclone Esther bringing rain in drought affected regions from the north west NSW to the south east.
Bureau of Meteorology weather services manager Jake Phillips said while some areas are expecting more than 100mls of rainfall it will not be enough to break the drought.
"We would need, in a number of areas, follow up rain after this event. The soil moisture deficit is still quite considerable. It really is the coastal areas and parts of from the last amount of rain we had," Mr Phillips said.
"At this stage there is no clear indication of any significant follow up rain during the next week or so, and the outlook produced by our climatologists suggested, as we head into April, the chances of exceeding rainfall is neutral.
"Over the next 24 to 48 hours what we are looking at is that these areas from the state's north west to the south east will receive anywhere between 50 to 100ml."
NSW Farmers President James Jackson said while farmers welcome the rain they are still doing it tough.
"It doesn't rain money. Even if some people can get a small crop up off the back of this rain that won't circulate around until about Christmas time," he said.
"We're hopeful this is more of a general rain event and a lot of people get it."
Already in the last 24 hours, there has been record breaking rainfall.
In the regional town of Fowlers Gap, in the state's north west, more than 100mls has fallen in the last 24 hours - exceeding the total rainfall of the last two years.
At 10am on Wednesday, Grasmere near Broken Hill in the far west of the state had already received 61mm of rain. Drought-ravaged Lake Bancannia has also recorded 121mm.
Rain is also falling in Sydney and along the coast and near Richmond and Tuggerah, where gages are recording between 25-49mm of rain.
A welcome downpour is bucketing down across the south and west of NSW, with the southern NSW town of Tumbaramba set to receive the heaviest falls - up to 200mm in coming days.
The rainfall has sparked storm and flash flooding warnings, with rain set to intensify this afternoon and on Thursday.
The rainfall will hit the inner parts of NSW from Tibooburra in the northwest down through Ivanhoe, Wagga Wagga, Albury and the Perisher Valley in the far south - totalling 100mm in three days.
Bourke in Upper Western NSW will start to receive rainfall from today, with rain gages set to record up to 100mm in the next three days.
The Snowy Mountains, Southern Ranges, South-West and Western Slopes and Plains will all receive a drenching from Wednesday.
The deluge has SES members on alert for localised flooding and possible landslides.
Regions in the state's north west, that were decimated by the recent bushfires, are of most concern for landslides.
"Due to the intensity of the fires, it removes the vegetation that holds the land together. Also with the droughts and fires, the root systems are not as secure as what we have seen in the past," NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York said.
"When we have heavy rains, and flowing water moving at some speed, it can lead to trees being brought down. Which in turn can fall down and damage power lines and houses.
"We have seen some tragic situations where the trees fall on motorcycles or people so we want to make sure everyone is aware of those dangers."
There are cloudy conditions with rain expected for the capital on Thursday and Friday but only up to 20mls of rainfall forecast.
Cracked and barren rivers across the state are expected to be flowing again following rainfall in Queensland and the expected dumping in NSW.
However Hydrologist Justin Robinson said this could result in localised flash flooding.
"We have flood warnings for the Paroo River, the Warrego River, Culgoa River, Birrie River, Bokhara River and Narran River. We expect those floods to occur in the next week," Mr Robinson said.
The NSW Rural Fire Service on Monday announced that for the first time since July 2019 there were no active fires burning in NSW, bringing an end to a fire season which destroyed 2439 homes, killed 29 people and razed 5.4 million hectares of land.
Fireys rejoice as NSW celebrates zero fires
Ben Shepherd, spokesman for the NSW RFS said the mood at firegrounds has completely shifted with news of the fires being extinguished.
"We've got no active fire on those firegrounds. For the first time since July, the feedback from the incident management team is that we're moving to patrol status so there's no active fires."
Just weeks ago, there were more than a hundred fires burning across the state as sweltering heat and gale-forced winds combined to unleash hell on firegrounds.
He said there were "no words" to describe the horror which had consumed much of NSW over Summer.
This time the rain should fall where they need it most. The forecast from @BOM_NSW over the next 8 days has possible falls up to 100mm in western #NSW. The smiles are slowly getting bigger. #NSWRFS pic.twitter.com/nc2hIg5Y1B— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) March 2, 2020
The "much-needed and much-welcome" news will give crews a well-deserved break, he said.
"This will give a sense that we can now see the end of the fire season and give many firefighters - especially on the far south coast, who have been dealing with fires for almost six months - a much-earned break before we start swinging into hazard reduction."
Fire crews will mark the occasion with celebrations in coming weeks, he said.
"I believe there are some plans to celebrate up and down the coast to acknowledge the work they've done but we've still got at least one month of this fire season. That will happen on completion of fire season."
Mr Shepherd took the news as an opportunity for a heartfelt tribute to volunteers.
"There are no words for the gratitude for the RFS and community have, they have gone over and above this season and some have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
"But without them we would not only be counting more house loses but lives in the hundreds, we are forever grateful and thankful we have such a large devoted team."
Thousands of firefighter volunteers saved almost 15,000 NSW homes from the grip of bushfires in the past few months.