Tourism thrives in sunny weather but visitors to France and to Australia got a taste of the other sort over the weekend.
Floods pushed the River Seine in Paris to alarmingly high levels, while a series of slow, south-moving storms traversed the entire 3000km length of Eastern Australia, dumping record amounts of rain, disrupting flights and travel.
Strong winds forced Sydney Airport to close two of its three runways throughout the weekend, causing lengthy delays, while traffic heading towards the airport yesterday morning was reported to be moving at 5 kmh.
“Please check with airlines for flight status updates and allow plenty of time to get to the airport safely. Thanks for your understanding!” the airport tweeted.
Queensland escaped with disruption rather than severe damage. Across New South Wales thousands of people were evacuated, with flood warnings issued for 23 NSW rivers including the Georges River and the Nepean-Hawkesbury Rivers.
A Qantas A330-300 flying to Sydney from Shanghai diverted to Richmond Air Force Base.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning for destructive winds, heavy rainfall, abnormally high tides and damaging surf along the NSW coast. Yesterday afternoon organisers of Sydney’s Vivid Festival urged visitors to delay seeing the show.
Heavy winds damaged some Vivid installations including the Cathedral of Light on the foreshore of the Royal Botanic Gardens near the Sydney Opera House. Light projections were switched off at Taronga Zoo, Martin Place, Darling Harbour, the Royal Botanic Garden and the many places around Circular Quay, The Rocks and Walsh Bay.
An amazing time-lapse video of the effect of the storm on popular Narrabeen beach on Sydney’s North Shore, taken from UNSW’s coastal imaging station, can be viewed below. The clip lasts just 50 seconds:
In Europe, torrential rain last week inundated eastern and central France, including Paris. Floods in Paris are beginning to ebb and the River Seine is finally receding after topping its normal level by 6.06 metres and coming very near bursting its banks.
The current floods are the worst to hit the Seine since 1982. The Louvre and Orsay museums moved art treasures from their basements, some metro stations closed and Parisians and tourists were advised to stay away from the Seine.
The French Government is set to declare a state of “natural catastrophe” on Wednesday. Floods have killed at least 17 people across Europe.
Written by Peter Needham