Wild winds caused havoc across Sydney and central and northern NSW on Monday, with flights cancelled and bushfires fanned.
Hundreds of domestic travellers were stranded at Sydney Airport on Monday morning after strong, gusty winds prompted the cancellation of 25 flights.
The airport was reduced to one runway as winds gusting up to 90km/h continued to batter the city. Most of the impact was felt in the morning, but passengers still faced delays of up to an hour on Monday afternoon.
International flights were not affected.
Elsewhere firefighters were trying to contain 47 blazes active across NSW as strengthening south-westerly winds made their job much more challenging.
On Monday afternoon, a new emergency alert was issued for a fire at Shark Creek, north-east of Grafton.
“The fire continues to burn in a north-easterly direction towards the villages of Angourie and Wooleweyah … under very strong south-westerly winds,” a NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman said.
“Residents need to seek shelter … it is too late to leave.”
The #winds that have been driving fires across #NSW will continue through today. They are expected to ease somewhat tomorrow, however there will still be strong gusts through the day. Conditions should improve significantly Wed & Thurs. https://t.co/FmrRRHhZf5 @NSWRFS #nswfires pic.twitter.com/SV9NvJChYp
— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) September 9, 2019
The weather also hampered the search for five people feared dead after a helicopter crashed into waters off the NSW coast.
The Bell UH1 helicopter dropped off the radar near Anna Bay, north of Newcastle, on Friday.
The aircraft belonged to Brisbane Helicopters owner and pilot David Kerr, who was reportedly the pilot at the time.
Queenslanders Jamie Ogden and Grant Kuhnemann and NSW couple Jocelyn Villanueva and Gregory Miller are also believed to have been on board.
“We’ve already got two assets deployed out in the area. They’ll be conducting search patterns up and down the area today,” NSW Police Marine Area Command Detective Chief Inspector Todd Cunningham told ABC Newcastle.
“Our operation is still a search operation at this stage.”
Detective Chief Inspector Cunningham admitted the conditions were problematic.
“We’re planning for further assets to be deployed when that (wind) eases, looking at Wednesday or Thursday,” he said.
“Obviously we want to get the information to the families as best as we can, so they know what’s going on.”
On Monday, the weather bureau issued a severe weather warning for the areas between Batemans Bay and Forster, as well as the Eden coast.
Hazardous surf was expected for Sydney and a large part of NSW’s coastline, it said.
The vigorous south-westerly winds are being driven by a deep low pressure system over the Tasman Sea and a high centred in the Bight.
The wild weather was expected to continue into Tuesday.