Heavy rain in Australia drenches fires and washes up sea foam along coast

Heavy rainfall in eastern parts of Australia has drenched deadly wildfires and helped ease a crippling three-year drought.

The extreme weather brought powerful surf conditions to the coastline which caused erosion at Sydney's beaches, and sea foam inundated some homes.

New South Wales Fire service said the deluge had helped firefighters extinguish "over 30 fires" over the weekend - some blazes had been "burning for weeks and even months".

Wildfires in Australia have have killed at least 33 people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes since September.

Experts have said it will take some time yet to know to what extent the recent rainfall has replenished dried-up rivers in the region.

Quentin Grafton, an economics professor and water expert at Australian National University in Canberra, said the rain had broken the drought in some towns but had not fallen evenly across all the affected areas.

"At this stage, it’s very good news, and certainly much more than people could have wished for or expected," he said.

"There are some very happy people."

Mr Grafton said drought had badly affected an area of more than 1.5 million square kilometres (580,000 square miles) - larger than the country of Ethiopia.

He added monitoring on major rivers over the coming days should provide a clearer picture of how much the rain has helped.

Strong winds brought down trees in residential areas. Credit: Evelyn McDonnell

On Saturday, authorities declared that the Currowan fire, south of Sydney, was finally out.

The blaze has destroyed more than 300 homes and razed 500,000 hectares (1.2 million acres) over two-and-a-half months.

  • Australian firefighters narrowly escape Currowan fire as flames destroy everything in minutes

Since breaking out in September 2019, Australia’s wildfires have killed at least 33 people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes.

The fires began causing widespread destruction towards the end of last year, which was both the hottest and driest year in Australia’s recorded history, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

The heavy rain over recent days has brought problems of its own, however, with some coastal areas experiencing flash flooding.

Wildfires burn out of control near Canberra - Australia's capital. Credit: AP

Sydney, the central coast and the Blue Mountains have received up to 40cm (16in) since Friday, representing some of the heaviest falls in decades.

Dams in the greater Sydney area were more than 64 per cent full on Monday after being only 42 per cent full a week earlier, according to officials.

More rain is forecast for the region over the coming days.