Australia live news update: NSW towns told to evacuate as ‘dangerous’ storm threatens Sydney; NT records first Covid death

Residents of two towns in northern NSW have been ordered to evacuate as “very dangerous” storms threaten areas around Sydney, AAP reports.

The State Emergency Service on Friday morning told residents of Boggabilla and Toomelah they must evacuate by 11am or risk being stranded without help. An evacuation centre has been set up at Moree East Public School.

On Friday afternoon the Newell Highway between Boggabilla and Moree was closed by flooding.

Severe storms have been threatening areas around the greater Sydney region, with a band developing from the Hunter through the Blue Mountains and down to the Illawarra region on Friday afternoon.

The Bureau of Meteorology warns Gosford, Cessnock, Maitland, Bowral, Katoomba and Taralga are among the areas that could be impacted by the damaging winds and large hailstones on Friday afternoon.

A “very dangerous” storm in Penrith was due to move towards Richmond, while another at Picton was moving south-east towards Wollongong.

Another storm was moving north-east over the Hunter region.

The Macintrye River has already reached moderate flood levels in Boggabilla, but is expected to peak with major flooding. Major flooding is also occurring upstream in Goondiwindi, with the river likely to exceed the peak of the 2011 floods that devastated south-east Queensland.

But the border town is “incredibly prepared” for floods, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services assistant commissioner, Steve Smith, says.

The Macquarie River is expected to reach a 9.5-metre peak before beginning to recede overnight at Warren, where major flooding has isolated the town. Major flooding is also underway at Wee Waa along the Namoi River and at Jemalong on the Lachlan River.

Flood warnings are still active for the Severn, Gwydir, Dumaresq, Bogan, Murrumbidgee, Murray, Warrego, Paroo and Barwon rivers, after NSW’s wettest November on record soaked catchments.

But sunny weather has returned for a spell, with multiple parts of NSW facing maximum temperatures exceeding 30C on Friday.

Federal-state disaster assistance is available in 39 local government areas across NSW for individuals and councils to clean up damage from November’s floods.