Sydneysiders have been warned against visiting several beaches due to dangerous surf conditions and possible water pollution.
Recent heavy rainfall has resulted in the threat of bacterial contamination at Sydney beaches, said a spokeswoman for the NSW government’s monitoring service, Beachwatch.
“Rainfall is the major driver of pollution to recreational waters, generating stormwater runoff,” the spokeswoman told the Herald.
“Beachwatch’s general advice is to avoid swimming during and for one day following rainfall at ocean beaches.”
Bronte and Coogee beaches are reportedly the worst affected. Warnings for possible water pollution were also released for multiple beaches, including Bondi, Little Bay, and Clovelly in the east, North Curl Curl, Freshwater, and Shelly (Manly) in the north, and Boat Harbour, North and South Cronulla, and Oak Park in the south.
The most obvious signs of stormwater pollution are water discolouration as well as debris in the water and on the tide line.
Swimming sites in Sydney Harbour, including Woolwich Baths, Tambourine Bay, and Rose Bay Beach, have also received pollution warnings. Beachwatch said to wait up to three days after rainfall before swimming in the harbour.
While Sydneysiders were originally warned of heavy rainfall over the rest of the week, Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Jordan Notara said to expect light showers on Wednesday, clearing up towards the weekend.
“The conditions that we have been seeing have been dependent on whether that trough is positioned and the forecast for heavy rainfall was based on the prediction that the trough would stay close to the coastline,” he said.
“We are now seeing that trough moving away, meaning we will see rain easing off.”
Possible showers and thunderstorms on Wednesday should ease on Thursday, but a frontal system approaching by Friday will mean the return of rain.
About 17 beaches were closed throughout Tuesday due to dangerous surf conditions.
Mr Notara said seasonal tides for the south coast are at their peak, “so a combination of the fact that we have a trough with that has resulted in tide levels being above average”.
“We will see another peak in the tide tomorrow, with high levels rising above the expected average for this time of year,” he said.
The Bureau of Meteorology has declared 2017-18 to be a La Nina year, reflecting the strengthening westward-blowing winds across the equatorial Pacific.
The event, though, is likely to be a relatively short-lived one with only a “limited influence on Australian rainfall patterns during summer”, the bureau said.
La Nina years typically bring wetter and cooler weather than normal to eastern Australia although the expected weakness of the current event – notwithstanding last week’s heavy rain over parts of Victoria – may mean more typical summer conditions prevailing.
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