22:06 GMT +313 December 2018
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    A boat passes under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and in front of the Sydney Opera House as strong winds and heavy rain hit the city of Sydney, Australia, November 28, 2018

    '100-Year Storm’ Swamps Sydney, NE Australia Burns (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

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    Australia’s largest city got a month’s worth of rain during a couple of hours on Wednesday, causing flooding, panic and at least three deaths. Meanwhile, the country’s Queensland state in the northeast is battling raging wildfires admit a scorching heat wave.

    Sydney sits in Australia's New South Wales state, spanning a river basin along the Pacific coast. Wednesday morning's thunderstorms turned that basin into a swimming pool, clogging traffic, canceling flights, cutting electricity and generally making people's day miserable.

    According to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, Sydney got 91 millimeters of rain in 90 minutes — that's about how much rain the city usually expects from the entire month of November. In other parts of the region, over 150mm had fallen by mid-afternoon.

    ​"That's the sort of rainfall you'd expect to see once every 100 years," Ann Farrell, the bureau's state manager, told reporters.

    The storm cut power to over 10,000 customers and caused 150 flights at Kingsford Smith international airport to be canceled or delayed after the airport was forced to close two of its three runways.

    Striking just before morning rush hour, the rain caused frustration and chaos along Sydney's main commuter arteries.

    ​The water got everywhere, especially into the subway and pedestrian tunnels.

    ​It even got into unexpected places, like walls.

    ​At least three deaths have been reported, including a man in a car crash and a Sydney Emergency Services volunteer who collapsed while responding to one of the myriad calls that came in Wednesday. Many others have been injured in collisions, slips and falling trees.

    Fast-Moving Brush Fires in Northeast

    By contrast, the situation in Queensland, 900 miles to the north, is approaching dire — but from the opposite direction. Dozens of wildfires are raging there amid a scorching heat wave. Channel News Asia reported Wednesday that the Bureau of Meteorology had declared a "catastrophic" fire danger.

    At least 34 schools have been closed across the region as temperatures soar to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Brian Smith, regional manager for the Rural Fire Services Central Region, told the Guardian the fires were being fanned by powerful westerly winds blowing out of the continent's dry interior, creating unpredictable conditions.

    ​Over 8,000 people have been told to leave the town of Gracemere as the brush fires close in. Hundreds of firefighters are battling the blazes, and crews from surrounding states are rushing to the region to help.

    Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said on Wednesday morning that people not following evacuation orders were risking death by staying put, warning the fires would create "dead man zones" in which survival was impossible, even with protection like a car.

    "That's basically a space that you get into where the humidity, the temperature, the fire creates its own weather cell, and it becomes an area that is almost unliveable for a short period of time," Crawford said. "It's the kind of conditions that could consume a vehicle very fast… if we get through today and we haven't had them, we will be so fortunate it isn't funny."

    "This is a very stressful situation for families. I need you to all be strong. I need you to all listen. Your family and the protection of our community is vital," State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said, noting residents needed to "reach out to community members who are frail, who are elderly, who have a disability."

    "Please listen to authorities," she said. "It is going to get a lot worse."

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