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Devastating freak storm wreaks havoc across Sydney, Australia

devastating-freak-storm-wreaks-havoc-across-sydney-australia

An intense thunderstorm accompanied with heavy rainfall, damaging winds and large hail ravaged Sydney, Australia on December 16, 2015. The freak storm triggered flooding across the affected areas while strong winds and a tornado wreaked havoc, causing severe infrastructural damage and widespread evacuations while numerous people have been left trapped in their homes.

A tornado accompanied by large, golf-sized hail stones, violent winds and floods battered grounds of southern beaches in a Sydney neighborhood that was later declared a disaster zone.

Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) reported destructive wind gusts and a possible tornado along the Sydney coast around Kurnell around 10:30 am (local time). Wind gusts reaching 213 km/h (132.4 mph) were recorded at Kurnell, 142 km/h at Molineaux Point (Botany Bay) while 111 km/h (69 mph) was observed at Little Bay and 102 km/h (63.4 mph) at Coonamble. A tornado was later confirmed by BOM.

According to BOM, the wind gust speed of 213 km/h (132.4 mph) reported at Kurnell station was the highest ever recorded in New South Wales.

140 mm (5.5 inches) of precipitation fell in 50 minutes at Island Point Road and 68 mm (2.7 inches) at Vincentia. 53 mm (2 inches) of rainfall was reported in 30 minutes at Rose Bay. Golf ball hail stones hit Cronulla and 2.5 cm (1 inch) hail balls were observed at Blackheath.

Video credit: Weather News via YouTube

More than 10 000 homes and about 7 000 businesses have been cutoff the power supply, and at least 160 calls out have been received by the State Emergency Service (SES). Roofs have been torn off the houses, and a palm tree has been reported to catch fire after being struck by the lightning. Part of the roof at the Shoppers at Westfield mall collapsed when damaging winds hit the area. Cars have been flipped and damaged by the winds and flooding in the area.

A large evacuation has taken place at the desalination plant in Kurnell, after it suffered devastating damage from the storm. Numerous flights have been delayed at Sydney's airports.

Video credit: World News via YouTube

BOM issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning on December 16 at 8:17 pm (local time), as more large hailstones, heavy rainfall and damaging winds are expected across parts of Northern Rivers, Mid-North Coast, North West Slopes and Plains and Northern Tablelands Forecast Districts. Severe weather conditions could induce flash flooding in Coffs Harbour, Tenterfield, Moree, Woolgoolga, Sawtell and Dorrigo.

Video credit: Kang Seblak via YouTube

The State Emergency Services have urged people to move their cars away from trees and under cover, to secure loose house items, remain away from the fallen power lines, unplug computer and electric appliances, avoid using the phone during the storm and stay away from creeks and storm drains. Residents have been advised not to walk, cycle or drive through flooded areas. Whenever possible, the people should stay indoors, or seek refuge in the highest available place and ring emergency rescue services.

Featured image: Freak storm ravages parts of Sydney, Australia, December 16, 2015. Image credit: World News via YouTube

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