Thousands without power as storm lashes Sydney

AFP, SYDNEY

Sun, Feb 10, 2019 - Page 3

Thousands of Sydney homes yesterday lost power after severe storms hit Australia’s largest city, causing transport hold-ups, inundating vehicles with floodwater and delaying a national football match.

Heavy rains and lightning storms lashed parts of Sydney late on Friday, with close to 60mm of rain falling in some parts of the city.

In Sydney’s west, which experienced some flash flooding, one suburb saw nearly 42mm fall in a short downpour lasting just 30 minutes.

“It was a slow-moving storm with that warm humid air moving along the coast ... that allowed for that increase of moisture,” New South Wales Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Byron Doyle said.

Images of cars submerged in floodwater on main roads, broken traffic lights and fallen trees circulated on social media.

Energy companies reported that more than 40,000 customers were affected by power outages at the peak of the storm overnight, with more than 5,000 still without power early yesterday.

Emergency services fielded more than 1,000 requests for help, including nine for flood rescues in the Sydney area.

The rescues were “all for vehicles in flood water,” a New South Wales state emergency services spokesperson said.

Flights were delayed at Sydney’s airport, while the storm caused havoc on some of the city’s train lines.

The start of a national Australian Rules football women’s match was delayed twice, pushed back 45 minutes as heavy rain and lightning pummeled the oval.

Several light towers then went out mid-match during the live TV broadcast, temporarily stopping the game during a reported blackout.

The Sydney storm comes as recovery efforts continue in Australia’s flood-ravaged northeastern state of Queensland, which over the past week has seen record-breaking rainfall, forcing hundreds of evacuations and thousands of requests for help.

Extreme heatwaves during the southern hemisphere summer have also broken temperature records in some towns.

Eastern inland areas have been experiencing a severe drought, while firefighters in the country’s southern states have been battling bushfires.