Blue Mountains SES prepares for snow, as the Get Ready for storms season starts

Blue Mountains State Emergency Services were on "standby for snow" as the NSW government today officially launched 'Get Ready' a NSW SES campaign to help communities prepare for the upcoming storm season.

Blue Mountains SES Unit Commander John Hughes said with "possible snow tonight" SES crews were on standby to help, "as per the Blue Mountains Snow Plan" for anyone impacted.

"From this evening, the SES will have teams on standby to respond in the Upper Blue Mountains if snow impacts our community. The main issue is that people go driving in the snow and they become stuck in icy conditions," he said.

The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted possible snow for Blackheath and Mount Victoria today (September 25) and Saturday, with the temperature predicted to drop to two degrees overnight at Mount Victoria.

With a wet and wild summer ahead, the NSW government and State Emergency Service (NSW SES) have today encouraged all communities to get ready for a potential increase in storms and floods.

Flood damage: The railway landslide at Leura earlier this year.

Flood damage: The railway landslide at Leura earlier this year.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott and NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York today [Friday September 25] said the launch was to help communities prepare for the worst.

Mr Hughes said the Mountains storm season "is more about the sudden and often destructive hailstorms we encounter through the warmer months".

"Hailstorms often come with little warning, but often bring torrential rain across the Mountains. In the past, we have received up to 120mm of rain within a couple of hours, which can cause flash flooding. When this is accompanied with hail, often the downpipes and drains can block up quickly which leads to local flooding into properties."

Mr Elliott said in the past few months, there had been widespread flooding in NSW and some people were risking their lives driving through floodwaters.

"Over the last eight months, NSW SES has received 500 flood rescue requests from people who have done exactly that.

"You wouldn't run into a bushfire, so we are asking the community to help SES volunteers by never driving, walking or riding through floodwater. You put yourselves, and people who come and save you, at risk."

Commissioner Carlene York said while storm season usually falls between October to March, severe weather can happen at any time.

"It is important to know your flood risk and have an emergency plan for what you will do in a flood. Don't be scared, be prepared," Commissioner York said.

Mr Hughes has advised Mountains residents to prepare their properties in a similar way to being prepared for a bushfire.

"Keep your gutters and downpipes clear of leaves and debris and clear any trees that may be too close to your house. Also, any garden furniture or outdoor toys should be secured when not in use. Strong winds generated in these summer storms are known to lift large trampolines into the air which can cause extensive damage to properties. Garden tools such as forks and shovels and be picked in strong winds and be thrown like a projectile in a storm."

He said the worst storms usually occurred from January to March, but added "this year we have already experienced thunderstorms across the region and we are still in Spring. Now is the time to have your home ready" .

NSW SES has 9,500 volunteers. As part of the campaign, some SES volunteers demonstrated the dangers of driving through floodwaters and what it takes to rescue people from stranded vehicles.

The government has introduced a number of new safety initiatives changing the way large scale evacuations are carried out to protect lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as masks, will be used at evacuation centres, with screening for symptoms when required. The government also encourages evacuees to stay with family or friends to prevent overcrowding.

The Bureau of Meteorology said snow is expected to fall overnight tonight to low-lying levels including Oberon, Orange, Crookwell, the ACT ranges and possibly around the Barrington Tops.