UPDATE 9.40pm: Bendigo might not have to wait too much longer for the first drops of rain to fall.
According to the latest WeatherZone radar, Horsham, Ararat and Swan Hill have already received rain and the initial front is heading for Bendigo.
**Story continues below the radar.
Mount Alexander Shire is working with its local SES crews to prepare its area for the weekend’s rain.
The shire’s municipal emergency response officer Luke Ryan said to watch their websites as more information arises.
“Decide now what you and your family will do if flooding impacts you,” he said.
“Mount Alexander Shire is known to flood. If you live, work or visit areas close to creeks, rivers, drains and low-lying land be prepared and stay informed.
“Remember it’s always best to leave early as local roads may be closed and low bridges may quickly be underwater.”
Emergency contacts and flood information can be found through:
- Latest emergency warnings – www.emergency.vic.gov.au or download the app.
- Life-threatening emergencies – call Triple Zero (000)
- Emergency assistance from the State Emergency Service (SES) – phone 132 500
- Local road closures – traffic.vicroads.vic.gov.au or phone 131 170
- Report damage to roads, footpaths and public buildings to Council – call 5471 1700 and make an online service request at www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au
- Stay tuned to your emergency broadcaster such as ABC Local Radio or SKY News TV.
UPDATE 9.30pm: There was some great work done today by the Natural Learners children in Axedale, who chipped in to help locals prepare for the forecast rain.
After a conversation about teamwork, the children gave back to the community by filling sandbags for residents.
With a sense of pride and self satisfaction, more than 100 bags were filled – with one carrying a special message from one of the youngsters.
"Don't worry your house won't flood. We are After School Care and we made sand bags for you."
UPDATE 8.20pm: Weeroona College is among many places in Bendigo preparing for rain.
The school has sandbagged numerous doors, as rain is expected to hit Bendigo about 8am Friday.
On social media this evening, premier Daniel Andrews also urged Victorians to prepare their homes for flash flooding.
In a post on Facebook, Mr Andrews made clear the dangers of flash flooding.
“This is a serious event. We're not mucking around here,” he wrote.
“My family – both in Melbourne and in Wangaratta – are taking every precaution. And so should yours. Stay safe.”
UPDATE 5.30pm: Buloke Shire Council has taken steps to prepare for flooding.
Boards have been removed from Charlton Weir and a generator has been set up at Charlton Hall, where the recovery centre will be activated if required.
Sand has been delivered to depot sites to help with sandbagging and a sandbag machine was tested in Charlton today.
In Donald, soil has been stockpiled at Camp Street to manage gaps in the Donald levee.
Wycheproof saw drainage works completed in Jubilee Street.
Across the shire, council has moved machinery into place, organised signs and sought the availability of earthmoving contractors and scheduled staff over the weekend.
READ MORE: Buloke Shire prepares for floods
Meanwhile, the BOM advises severe thunderstorms are no longer occurring in Victoria.
Thunderstorms are still occuring in western and southern Victoria, however the immediate threat of severe storms has passed. The situation will continue to be monitored and further warnings will be issued if necessary.
A severe weather warning for heavy rainfall is current and thunderstorms in western Victoria may result in heavy rain over the next few hours.
UPDATE 5pm: The Bureau of Meteorology has issued an updated weather warning. Heavy rain and scattered thunderstorms which may lead to flash flooding are likely to develop in the far west this evening, before extending across the remaining parts of the state during Friday. The heavy rain and thunderstorm activity will continue on Saturday and contract to the southeast during Sunday.
Three day totals of around 100-200mm are expected across most of northern and central regions of the state. Elsewhere, totals are likely to be between 30 and 100mm. Over the northeast ranges totals may exceed 250mm.
Locations which may be affected include Mildura, Horsham, Warrnambool, Bendigo, Shepparton, Seymour, Maryborough, Ballarat, Geelong, Melbourne, Wodonga, Wangaratta, Traralgon and Bairnsdale.
The State Emergency Service advises that people:
* Don't walk, ride or drive through flood water;
* Keep clear of creeks and storm drains;
* Be aware that in fire affected areas, rainfall run-off into waterways may contain debris such as ash, soil, trees and rocks;
* Be alert that in areas recently affected by fires, heavy rainfall increases the potential for landslides and debris across roads;
UPDATE 4.50pm: A flood warning is current for the Loddon and Avoca Rivers.
VicRoads has warned possible flash flooding locations include the Pyrenees Highway, Wimmera Highway, Loddon Valley Highway, Calder Highway and the Calder Alternative Highway.
VicRoads urges motorists to consider whether travel is essential. If you do have to drive there are some simple steps to improve road safety:
- Wet weather should be a prompt to slow down on the roads.
- Don’t walk, ride or drive through flood water. You wouldn’t drive through flames, so don’t drive through floods.
- Cars can float in as little as 15cm of water – that’s water the depth of an average pen. Watch the video here http://15tofloat.com.au/
- Leave a greater distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front.
- Turn your headlights on.
- Be alert for other road users who may be difficult to see, such as motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians.
- If the rain is too heavy for your wipers to cope, the best course of action is to pull over and wait until visibility improves.
- Make sure your car is safe and in a roadworthy condition – in particular, check tyres, windscreen wipers and brake lights. Most importantly – be patient.
If you see any problems on roads,report them to the VicRoads Traffic Management Centre on 13 11 70 (open 24/7). In an emergency call Triple Zero (000). For the latest information visit traffic.vicroads.vic.gov.au.
UPDATE 4.20pm: Vic Emergency has issued flood advice for people near the Loddon, Campaspe and Avoca rivers.
Caravan and camping grounds in the area are expected to flood along with areas around rivers and streams.
Vic Emergency also warns that local roads may be closed and low bridges may be underwater.
The warning reads: “Heavy rain and scattered thunderstorms are likely to develop in the far west during Thursday night before extending across the remaining parts of the State during Friday.
“The heavy rain and thunderstorm activity will continue on Saturday.
“Three day totals of around 60-120mm are expected south of the Divide and over the far northwest with totals of between 100 and 200mm over remaining areas on and north of the Divide.”
READ MORE: Carisbrook emergency services on standby
UPDATE 2.15pm: Goornong resident Danielle Milne was hopeful the 25 sandbags she collected from the Bendigo SES this afternoon would be unnecessary.
This is a serious event. We're not mucking around here. My family – both in Melbourne and in Wangaratta – are taking every precaution. And so should yours. Stay safe.— Daniel Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) November 30, 2017
But she wasn’t taking any chances.
“I saw this on Facebook and thought it was a good opportunity to be prepared,” Ms Milne said.
With two-year-old Ngaire resting on her hip, she told the SES how she proposed to use the sandbags.
Her property has a dip, which Ms Milne feared posed a risk of flooding the house.
“We haven’t seen it flood in the past, but we also haven't seen 200 millimeters fall in the time frame predicted,” she said.
Her family has seen the damage flood waters can cause – Ms Milne’s parents lost property in Toolleen to flooding in the early ’90s.
Twenty-five bags was the maximum allocation Bendigo SES members were providing people who sought sandbags on Thursday morning.
Members were assessing the needs of each person who presented at the unit, to ensure bags were available for as many people as possible.
UPDATE 2pm: Will the weather be the Grinch that stole Christmas?
We’ll find out tomorrow morning, when the City of Greater Bendigo will decide whether or not to cancel its Christmas tree light-up event.
The event was scheduled to take place in the Rosalind Park piazza on Friday evening.
“If organisers decide it is not possible to hold the event as planned, it will be cancelled; however the tree lights will still be switched on around 8.45pm,” the city said in a statement.
UPDATE 1.30pm: The Campaspe, Avoca, Loddon and Goulburn rivers are among a handful of catchments on a Bureau of Meteorology flood watch list.
The list is not a flood warning, but instead described as a “heads-up” for future possible flooding.
The bureau said significant stream rises were expected in response to the forecast rainfall.
Widespread flooding is likely from Friday onwards in the catchments covered by this flood watch.
Meanwhile, the bureau has also issued a brown rot advice message for several forecast districts, including north central and central.
Stone fruit growers in the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country, north central, north-east, south-west, central, west and South Gippsland and East Gippsland forecast districts are advised that rainfall and accompanying high humidity during Friday and Saturday are conducive to a heavy outbreak of brown rot.
UPDATE 1pm: SES volunteers have taken the day off work to help those needing to sandbag their homes or properties.
These are our current thoughts on when the heavy rain associated with the upcoming rain event will start. Isolated thunderstorms may affect areas before the main rain arrives. Check the forecast and warnings: https://t.co/FMMRnxrbFTpic.twitter.com/ZlkibH7EQE— Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria (@BOM_Vic) November 30, 2017
They can chat to you about your needs and offer advice, but are limited to 25 sandbags per household.
Volunteer Lachie Worn says central Victorians should today clean out gutters and try to create drainage around yards.
“Just be ready early,’’ he advises. “Don’t wait until it hits to try and fill up sandbags.’’
And when it comes to driving, his warning is clear.
“If it’s flooded, forget it.’’
Watch his advice, here:
UPDATE 12.30pm: Premier Daniel Andrews used Question Time in Parliament on Thursday to warn Victorians to exercise caution during the forecast downpour, and to let emergency services workers and volunteers do their jobs.
"This is a very serious matter and one that will pose a very severe challenge to communities right across the state and will be a direct challenge to public safety," Mr Andrews said.
He urged all Victorians to follow the advice of VicRoads, Public Transport Victoria and Victoria Police and not to drive into flood waters.
"Please, listen to those warnings, heed them and that is the best thing you can do in order to keep yourself and your family safe and what's more, to not put our emergency services in harm's way having to come to your aid," Mr Andrews said.
Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Richard Carlyon said the deluge was likely to be the most intense rain event since 1993 when the city received 89 millimetres of rain in one day.
"Across the state I'd say many records will be broken," he said.
"We may remember it for a long time, it's hard to gauge how bad it will be.
"It's like it had a calendar, it's uncanny in a way, starting on the first day of summer."
The weather will be so extreme and potentially dangerous the bureau released its warning earlier than usual.
"We don't normally give this much lead time, but it's 48 to 72 hours because we are concerned about safety," Mr Carlyon said.
"The type of rainfall we're talking about is unprecendented."
UPDATE 12pm: BENDIGO SES volunteers have set up an emergency sandbag collection point after hardware stores around the region sold out.
The collection point at 64 Adam Street in Quarry Hill will be open into the evening, with SES crew members taking the day off work to advise worried residents on how to safeguard their properties from floodwater.
SES spokeswoman Natalie Stanway asked community members to treat emergency service workers with kindness.
“We know some people are finding this potential event very stressful, but we are all here to help,” Ms Stanway said.
Households will each be permitted 25 sandbags and some sand will be available, although residents will need to fill and load the bags themselves.
“That's not us being mean - it's making sure we have enough in reserve to meet the emergency calls for assistance we will get over the coming days,” Ms Stanway said.
EARLIER: BENDIGO hardware stores are selling out of sandbags as residents prepare for a rainstorm that forecasters are describing as unprecedented for Victoria.
A Hume & Iser Home Timber & Hardware spokesperson said sandbags had flown off shelves on Thursday morning.
Shoppers snapped up as many as 200 of the items before 10am.
"We had a heap of them, but they all went early," the spokesperson said.
The same happened at Fitzpatricks Home Timber and Hardware in California Gully, where about 300 sandbags were sold on Thursday.
A Fitzpatricks employee said: "The phones were going at 8am when I got here and they haven't stopped."
Read more: Looking back at the 2016 floods in pictures
The Bureau of Meteorology forecasts northern and central regions of the state, including Bendigo, are facing three-day totals of 100 to 200 millimetres of rain.
Elsewhere, totals are likely to be between 30 and 100mm, and more than 250mm in the north-east ranges.
Bendigo has an 100 per cent chance of rain on Friday and Saturday, with up to 70mm forecast on each day.
A severe weather warning for heavy rainfall remains in place for most of Victoria, including Central, East Gippsland, Mallee, South West, Northern Country, North Central, North East, West and South Gippsland and Wimmera forecast districts.
The State Emergency Service advises that people should:
- Not walk, ride or drive through flood water;
- Keep clear of creeks and storm drains;
- Be aware that in fire affected areas, rainfall run-off into waterways may contain debris such as ash, soil, trees and rocks; and
- Be alert that in areas recently affected by fires, heavy rainfall increases the potential for landslides and debris across roads
The Bendigo State Emergency Service said via its Facebook page it was working with the City of Greater Bendigo to establish a sandbag collection.
It advised people to clear their properties, gutters and downpipes.
“If you can't get sandbags, there are other options,’’ the post said.
“Grab those thousands of environmental reusable shopping bags that have been breeding in your junk cupboard. While they may not be as effective as sandbags, they will slow the water more than nothing at all. Remember you can also use heavy duty plastic sheeting behind your sandbags as an extra layer to slow down any seepage.
“You may also be able to dig a small trench to divert the water from heading straight for your front door to down the side of the house into the backyard.”