‘Do not be alarmed’: Strange odour in the air near towns in state’s east

Victoria’s fire authority has urged residents in parts of Gippsland to remain calm following reports of a strange odour in the air near Sale in the state’s east.

In a statement, the Country Fire Authority said the smell was the result of heavy rain and floods in recent weeks, which had caused water to stagnate and vegetation to rot.

Severe weather conditions are expected to persist in Victoria through to Friday. Credit:Joe Armao

A change in wind direction had caused the odour to travel to Sale, Wurruk and The Heart and exacerbated the smell of the nearby Longford gas plant, the authority said.

“Do not be alarmed,” the statement read.

“There is no incident or emergency on the Longford gas plant or in the Sale area.”

Victorians were told to brace for another night of severe thunderstorms with the potential to bring destructive winds and flash flooding to parts of the state on Wednesday afternoon, but the warning was cancelled by the Bureau of Meteorology late in the evening.

Meteorologists feared a tropical air mass could combine with a deepening low-pressure system in eastern parts of South Australia to create severe thunderstorms in the Mallee, Gippsland and Wimmera regions.

This could have brought flooding to Nhill, Kaniva, Morwell, Traralgon, Warragul, Sale, Moe, Yarram, Mount Baw Baw and Mildura overnight.

The bureau estimated up to 100 millimetres of rain could fall across Victoria’s eastern districts between Wednesday and Friday and about half of that in the central districts. The Gippsland slopes could get 130 millimetres of rain.

The front has since moved into eastern New South Wales, bringing intense rainfall to the Blue Mountains and Camden. The bureau forecasts the storms will move into western Sydney over the coming hours and could increase the risk of flooding in areas to several river catchments.

In the 24 hours to 9am on Wednesday, the bureau recorded rainfall totals of up to 50 millimetres in Victoria’s north-east and of 30 millimetres in Gippsland catchments.

Nilma North in Warragul also received more than 42 millimetres of rain in an hour, with Yanac North getting drenched with almost 32 millimetres of rain in just half an hour.

On Tuesday, the bureau revealed Australia was in for an unusually wet and cold summer as a result of a La Nina weather pattern that had taken hold over the Pacific Ocean.

Climate scientists predicted the weather event would bring cooler temperatures, more rainy days and higher risks of extreme weather such as cyclones to most of the eastern seaboard, and urged residents near rivers in NSW and Queensland to remain on high alert.

Australia has experienced 18 La Nina events since 1900 and 12 have coincided with flooding in eastern states.

Victoria was hit with floods earlier this month, when heavy rains lashed Gippsland and Bendigo, causing rivers to surge. Central NSW has also been inundated and the Lachlan River flooded towns like Parkes and Forbes.

While the immediate threat of severe thunderstorms for Victoria had passed, the bureau said it would continue to monitor the situation and issue new warnings if necessary.

with Laura Chung and Mike Foley

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