Severe weather warning issued for the Latrobe Valley

Gregor Mactaggart

The Bureau of Meteorology this morning issued a severe weather warning for damaging winds and heavy rainfall across more than half of Victoria, including the Latrobe Valley.

The latest advice issued at 4.58am today, the warning is for people in Central, East Gippsland, Northern Country, North Central, North East and West and South Gippsland Forecast Districts..

A low pressure system south of the Great Australian Bight will move slowly east tonight, with an associated trough crossing Victoria today.

Damaging northerly winds, averaging 60 to 70 km/h with peak gusts of around 90 km/h are possible across central districts (including Melbourne) and elevated parts of eastern Victoria today, with gusts to 100-110 km/h across the higher peaks (above 1500 metres).

Damaging winds are expected to ease below warning threshold across central parts of the state during this afternoon and in the east during the early hours of Saturday.

Heavy rainfall which may lead to flash flooding is expected to develop across central parts of the state during the morning before slowly contracting to northeastern Victoria during the evening.

The heavy rain is expected to clear the state early on Saturday morning.

Six hour totals of 20-40mm are possible across the warning area, with 24 hour totals of 40-70mm likely across the northeast ranges.

Isolated totals of 100mm are possible across elevated areas of the northeast.

Locally higher falls and damaging wind gusts are possible with any thunderstorm activity within the warning area.

Locations which may be affected include Bendigo, Shepparton, Seymour, Maryborough, Ballarat, Geelong, Melbourne, Wodonga, Wangaratta and Traralgon.

The State Emergency Service advises that people should:

* If driving conditions are dangerous, safely pull over away from trees, drains, low-lying areas and floodwater. Avoid travel if possible.

* Stay safe by avoiding dangerous hazards, such as floodwater, mud, debris, damaged roads and fallen trees.

* Be aware – heat, fire or recent storms may make trees unstable and more likely to fall when it’s windy or wet.

* Check that loose items, such as outdoor settings, umbrellas and trampolines are safely secured. Move vehicles under cover or away from trees.* Stay indoors and away from windows.

* If outdoors, move to a safe place indoors. Stay away from trees, drains, gutters, creeks and waterways.

* Stay away from fallen powerlines – always assume they are live.

* Be aware that in fire affected areas, rainfall run-off into waterways may contain debris such as ash, soil, trees and rocks. Heavy rainfall may also increase the potential for landslides and debris across roads.

* Stay informed: Monitor weather warnings, forecasts and river levels at the Bureau of Meteorology website, and warnings through VicEmergency website/app/hotline.