Heavy rains and flooding pummeling Australia's east coast that have forced thousands to evacuate are set to continue for at least another day, forecasters warn.
The big picture: Rains have lashed New South Wales and southeast Queensland since last Thursday. Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters 18,000 people were under evacuation orders and the situation remained "dynamic," with western Sydney the area of "greatest concern." A natural disaster was declared in 16 areas. An aerial view of flooded structures on the Colo River in Colo, northwest of Sydney on March 23. Federal government agency the Bureau of Meteorology has issued severe weather warnings for every state and territory except Western Australia, affecting some 10 million people — 40% of Australia's population. Photo: Jenny Evans/Getty Images An aerial view of flooded structures on the Colo River in Colo, northwest of Sydney, March 23. Morrison said while the rains were expected to ease by late Wednesday, the flood threat would remain. Photo: Jenny Evans/Getty Images A flooded reserve in Colo on March 23. There have been reports of snakes, spiders and other animals taking refuge in people's homes. Photo: Jenny Evans/Getty Images People beside a flooded road in the Windsor area of Sydney on March 23. The Insurance Council of Australia declared a catastrophe for parts of NSW, enabling insurers to prioritize responses. Photo: Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images Sydney's Windsor Bridge is submerged under rising floodwaters, March 22. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters, "I don't know any time in state history where we have had these extreme weather conditions ... in the middle of a pandemic." Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images A worker beside a main road inundated by floodwaters in Richmond on March 22. Photo: Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images The overflowing banks of Sydney's Parramatta River March 22. Photo: Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images Heavy flooding in McGraths Hill, Sydney, March 22. Photo: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images A road is made impassable by recent rainfall on March 22 in Byron Bay, NSW, near the Queensland border. Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images Flooded farmland near Lennox Head, NSW, near the state border with Queensland, on March 22. Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images Surfers take to the water during heavy rains in Byron Bay on March 21. Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images Editor's note: This article has been updated with more photos and further details on the severe weather.