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data journalist Catherine Hanrahan, Paulina Vidal and Heath Parkes-Hupton

Sydney experiences wettest start to the year since records began in 1859

Heavy rainfall and flooding hitting Collaroy

Sydney is enduring its wettest start to the year since records began in 1859, and while the rain is set to ease, authorities are warning it doesn't mean the state's flooding emergency is over.

The weather station on Observatory Hill in the CBD has recorded 822 millimetres of rain so far this year.

That's about 70 per cent of the amount that would normally fall in an entire year, or what would have accumulated by August.

The Bureau of Meteorology's (BOM) Dean Narramore says 872mm of rain had fallen across Sydney since January 1

"That is the wettest start to Sydney so far for any year. It's been a very wet couple of months and that's not far away from almost our annual, which is approaching just over the metre mark for the year," he said.

"That is our average and we're almost 900mm so far."

The wet start has broken the previous record of 783mm up to March 8, which was set in 1956.

The third wettest start to the year was recorded in 1990, when 754mm of rain fell.

Reprieve from the weather is forecast for Thursday as the east coast low moves offshore.

Mr Narramore said the east-coast low which had pummelled NSW and Queensland was moving further offshore, and Sydney could expect a "mostly sunny day" tomorrow.

But until then the BOM warns more rainfall in already soaked catchments is likely — and dangerous.

"Even though the sun does come out, we are likely to see many of these rivers continuing to experience major flooding," Mr Narramore said.

"And for some, the flood peak won't occur until Wednesday or Thursday."

Of particular concern are the Hawkesbury and the Nepean Rivers, which Mr Narramore said were in danger of experiencing flooding levels "equal to or greater than what we saw in March of 2021."

There are fears the Hawkesbury River could see flood levels "equal to or greater" than last year's floods. (Supplied: Fire and Rescue)

Both rivers were under flood warnings late last night and were being "monitored upstream" with surrounding areas still subject to evacuation orders. 

The State Emergency Service (SES) fielded 2,000 calls for assistance and performed 71 flood rescues in the 24 hours to 10am today.

NSW SES zone commander Greg Swindells urged the community to continue heeding warnings, saying strong winds moving through could bring down trees and powerlines.

This morning Cooper, from Londonderry, said his family's property was now half submerged.

"It's crazy just what happens when the water comes through … it's just really hard for me and my family," he said.

"We live on a bit of land, we had to evacuate the sheep, everything."

Friend Adamo said his grandmother had been saved from her flooding home by people in a passing tinnie, in what was a stroke of luck.

"It just breaks my heart. You look at it (the flooding) and it makes you think how lucky you are," he said.

Adamo (left) and Cooper. (ABC News)
The Hawkesbury river is expected to peak at more than 14m today.  (ABC News: Mahnaz Angury)

Hawkesbury Mayor Patrick Conolly said the area had endured a "total battering" but locals remained resilient.

Cr Conolly said the Hawkesbury River was expected to peak at 14.2m at Windsor today, about a 1.5m higher than during devastating floods in March 2021.

"We evacuated a lot of people last night. So fingers crossed, no more rain and that's where it ends," he said.

"It's devastating for people who have already been through so much already. So many people have spent the last year putting it all back together."

Premier Dominic Perrottet also acknowledged there was "loading similar" to last year's floods, as he urged residents to follow the State Emergency Service's (SES) advice during this "difficult time".

It comes as a mother and son became the first victims of Sydney's flood emergency.

The bodies of Hermalathasolhyr Satchithanantham and her son Bramooth's were found in a swollen creek in Western Sydney about 1.5 kilometres from where their car crashed into a stormwater canal.

A member of the public first spotted the 67-year-old woman's body, soon after her 34-year-old son was found about 400 metres upstream. 

The bodies of a mother and son were found in a creek in Western Sydney.  (ABC News)

Sydney's weather event could be further complicated today with strong winds that developed overnight.

SES spokesperson Andrea Cantle fears trees may fall due to overly saturated soil and has urged the community to be "as careful as possible".

"We're asking people to avoid the road," Ms Cantle said.

"With properties, put away any loose items, bring your pets indoors because it's going to get quite windy, the rain may die down and the wind will pick up."

'Memorise evacuation route'

Overnight there were 65 evacuation orders across the state, affecting more than 60,000 people.

Ms Cantle said they were mostly in the Hawkesbury and Nepean River area, Camden, Singleton in the Hunter and Sussex Inlet on the South Coast.

"We're asking if you're affected by an order to memorise that evacuation route and acknowledge that the road access could be cut, as well as power, phone and internet," she said.

Among the suburbs affected were McGraths Hill and Mulgrave in Sydney's north-west, where residents were given until 8:30pm to leave via Windsor Road to Rouse Hill.

While residents around Narrabeen on Sydney's northern beaches were given the all-clear to return home overnight after flash flooding yesterday, some locals in the Hunter and the Hawkesbury regions were forced to evacuate last night.

Many roads in north Manly are under water. (Twitter: Marianne Bray)

Those opting to stay were warned by the SES they may not be rescued because it could be "too dangerous".

In the northern beaches, Mona Vale recorded 102mm of rain in just three hours yesterday as residents in parts of Narrabeen were given until 7pm to evacuate via Pittwater Road.

Those in properties around the lagoon were also told by the SES staying meant risking being "trapped without power, water or other essential services".  

By midnight residents were issued with a Return with Caution notice after flood levels dropped.

Cars at Mackellar Girls Campus submerged in floodwater

Earlier, initial readings of water levels at Manly Dam also prompted a red level evacuation alert for 800 homes in the low-lying areas below.

The warning at the 1892 built facility was later downgraded to amber with nearby residents told to be ready to evacuate.

"The rain and thunderstorms have not finished yet," SES Commissioner Carlene York said.

"There is a chance that [the dam] may go over that area and we may go back up into that evacuation order."

A Manly local helping move people to higher ground told the ABC the rainfall had caught him off-guard.

"I don't think we have seen rain like this. I was getting updates. My feet were [under], ankles and then, 'Oh, that's my car floating down the street'," he said.

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