Storm activity over Sydney today.
Storm activity over Sydney today.

Supercell leaves thousands without power

MORE  than 55,000 properties in Sydney and the Central Coast remain without power after thunderstorms savaged the NSW east coast.

Torrential rain, damaging wind and hailstones the size of golf balls lashed Sydney and the Hunter region on Saturday afternoon bringing down trees and taking out hundreds of power lines.

Sydney's north was hardest hit with areas of the Campbelltown area and the southern part of the Central Coast also damaged.

Network operators Endeavour Energy and Ausgrid said more than 750 electrical hazards needed to be repaired before supply could be restored to 56,000 homes.

"This was a devastating storm that caused extensive damage to the electricity network," Endeavour Energy spokesman Peter Payne said on Sunday in a statement.

"Many of our customers in the worst affected areas would not have seen damage like this for years."

Ausgrid's Jonathan Hall said repairs could take a while.

"Unfortunately, it's taking time because that does involve in some places putting in new power poles and new power lines and unfortunately that type of repair takes some time."

Lightning struck a train line at Granville, bringing services to the city's west to a halt for hours.

Emergency crews worked through the night to restore power and clear debris and the operation is expected to continue into Sunday morning.

Sunday's weather is expected to remain overcast with a high chance of further showers.

Residents along the length of the NSW coast were battered with heavy rainfall, damaging winds and large hailstones as the storm cell lashes the state.

A severe thunderstorm warning was issued for the state's east with damaging winds up to 90km/h possible including in Sydney, the Hunter Region and the Blue Mountains.

The Bureau of Meteorology warned multiple cells were converging on Sydney and a particularly "dangerous thunderstorm" was encroaching on Newcastle.

Storms have also been lashing Victoria and Queensland.

Yesterday afternoon, Melbourne received a drenching of rain that saw the city receive more than 30mm in 15 minutes. The SES also received more than 720 callouts in 24 hours since Friday 9am.

Cyclone Owen, in far north Queensland, has also weakened but still has residents on high alert with emergency services warning some areas could be hit with flash flooding tonight.

Damage in Carlingford after the afternoon storm in Sydney. Picture: Yixiang Gan
Damage in Carlingford after the afternoon storm in Sydney. Picture: Yixiang Gan


Sydney's storm cell caused heavy rainfall, destructive winds and giant hailstones with more wild weather expected.

Parts of the city's train network also ground to a halt with a power outage and debris on the track stopping trains between Parramatta and Granville.

The Northern Line also experienced power failures which stopped lifts and Opal card systems.

The Western Line was also down due to power failures.

 

Residents in the Hills district in Sydney's north west reported dozens of trees had fallen during the storm, with some blocking major roads around Parramatta.

Sydney is set to cop another drenching today. Picture: Jenny Evans
Sydney is set to cop another drenching today. Picture: Jenny Evans

On Friday, Dungong in the Hunter Region received 40 millimetres in just 30 minutes yesterday afternoon as heavy rains drenched much of NSW.

The stormy conditions around the east coast of the state, combined with a car crash on the Harbour Bridge led to peak-hour gridlock with lengthy delays on major arterial roads on Friday. Southbound traffic was queued back into the Lane Cove Tunnel while northbound traffic stretched over the Anzac Bridge to Rozelle, the Transport Management Centre said in a statement. Buses were delayed up to 30 minutes. Elsewhere flooding caused road closures and trains were cancelled due to the severe weather.

All three joey siblings were discovered crying for help in Fitzpatrick Park. Picture: Ben Graham
All three joey siblings were discovered crying for help in Fitzpatrick Park. Picture: Ben Graham

The tiny marsupials were left writhing in agony as their mother, presumably still terrified by the storm, fled, confused and alone.

It wasn't until many hours later that I stumbled across one of the joeys screeching for help among the park's vegetation as I was ambling home from work.

And, to my surprise, I could hear a similar high-pitched whining emanating from the ground just metres away from the distressed native mammal - where its brother lay in a heartbreakingly similar predicament.

Thinking I had gone insane and trying not to step on the helpless joeys, I heard the sound yet again and found the third sibling crying out.

All three were already dehydrated and life-threateningly cold - and, worryingly, I could hear another bout of thunder and rain creeping closer.

RSPCA NSW put me on to an incredible NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) volunteer called June, who remarkably arrived at the scene within minutes despite heavy traffic and driving rain.

With the help of my mate Tom, who christened the little fellas Lars, Kirk and James after the members of his favourite band Metallica, we shepherded them into a padded wine box and handed them over to June with our fingers firmly crossed.

We handed the little battlers over to WIRES with our fingers crossed. Picture: Ben Graham
We handed the little battlers over to WIRES with our fingers crossed. Picture: Ben Graham

She told us that possum joey triplets were very rare and these guys were particularly young and vulnerable to be exposed to the outside world in such a cruel way.

We knew from the offset that their chances were slim.

The next day I looked at my phone to see a message from June. The triplets had been battling through the night on feeds of fluids and milk, and at midnight she thought they might survive through the to the morning.

But tragically, all three didn't make it.

"They at least were warm and had full tummies," the valiant volunteer told me, comfortingly. "We all wished for a happier outcome."

 

MORE STORMS ON THE WAY

A severe weather warning has been issued for parts of Queensland's north coast as tropical cyclone Owen will move over the northern interior today.

Six-hour rainfall totals between 100-200mm are possible, particularly with thunderstorms, are forecast, with flash flooding expected.

 

 

You can stay across all the tropical cyclone Owen updates here.



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