VIDEO: Illawarra gets off lightly as ex-cyclone heads east

The Illawarra has escaped relatively unscathed after the remnants of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald steered away from the coast and across the Tasman Sea yesterday.

Parts of the region recorded more than 130millimetres of rain in the 24 hours to 9am yesterday as the massive weather system made its presence felt.

 Winds reached 98km/h at Bellambi and big seas pounded the coast, inundating beachside pools. 

Wollongong City Council closed all 17 beaches and the Continental Pool at North Wollongong yesterday because of unsafe surf conditions and poor water quality, the result of stormwater runoff from the heavy overnight rainfall.

The conditions, which came just 10 days after the region experienced record-breaking heat, drew photographers, surfers and thrill-seekers to the coast, and led to 80 call-outs for SES volunteers.

Crews were called to Albion Park about 5.30am yesterday when a motorist became stuck in water on the Illawarra Highway between Tongarra Road and the Princes Highway. The driver was extracted, unhurt, and the car was salvaged. 

The Illawarra Highway and the Princes Highway were later closed at Albion Park because of flooding, as was Fern Street in Gerringong between the Princes Highway and Belinda Street.

Most of the SES call-outs were for roof damage, or floods threatening properties.

Some of the region’s SES personnel have been sent to the Mid North Coast to assist flood-affected communities there.

In the 24 hours to 9am yesterday, Port Kembla recorded 128mm, Warilla 116mm, Kiama  135mm, Albion Park 129mm, Cringila 110mm, Mount Kembla 137mm, Figtree 148mm, Darkes Forest 136mm, and Bellambi 139mm.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, more large swells breaking  dangerously close to shore are expected today and tomorrow. 

The bureau forecasts possible light morning showers today, with temperatures up to 23 degrees.

A Wollongong City Council spokeswoman said council would re-evaluate the condition of patrolled beaches and the Continental Pool this morning.

‘‘It’s anticipated some of our beaches will reopen,’’ she said. 

‘‘The Continental Pool is also expected to reopen this week following favourable sea and tidal conditions.’’

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