Severe thunderstorms deluge Sydney after record heat, Australia


After record breaking heat, Sydney got smashed by powerful thunderstorms on Tuesday, February 7, 2017. Although the storm brought some relief, as temperatures dropped by 5 – 10 °C (9 – 18 °F), dangerous flash floods were reported across the city. Unsettled weather is expected to continue at least until Thursday when heatwave conditions will return.

Severe, slow moving thunderstorms brought significant amounts of rain to Sydney today, wreaking havoc across the city. A number of major roads across the city have been affected by heavy rain as well as Sydney's airport. Authorities urged motorists to consider if they need to drive, and delay travel if possible.

Forecaster Rob Taggart told the Daily Telegraph the recent hot temperatures had made for ripe conditions for massive showers.

Sydney's inner west, city and east were worst hit.

Marrickville recorded 48 mm (1.9 inches) of rain before 11:00 local time. Between 10:00 and 11:00, Prospect Reservoir in the west received 30 mm (1.2 inches) of rainfall while Observatory Hill recorded 35 mm (1.4 inches). The southwestern suburb of Canterbury received 30 mm of rain in just 30 minutes. 

According to Daily Telegraph, one person was reported to be trapped in a flooded car at Parramatta Rd at Leichhardt, near Flood St. 

James Ruse Drive and Pennant Hills Road at North Parramatta, as well as the Anzac Bridge between Pyrmont and Rozelle, were also heavily affected. 

The Bondi – Randwick off ramp at the Eastern Distributor was closed. 

Fire and Rescue NSW spokeswoman said crews had been swamped with requests for help as the storm with multiple reports of roofs caving in, homes being flooded and cars trapped.

Some 1 800 homes in Macarthur and Southern Highlands regions have lost power.

In Marrickville, the foundations of the Ewart Street building were thought to be unstable due to the collapse of an adjacent natural gorge, prompting an evacuation of 100 residents. They have since returned to their homes as engineers deemed the building safe.

A single-storey home at Tennyson Point, Sydney's northwest has also collapsed. Luckily, there was no one inside.

Forecasters warned that unsettled weather is expected to continue into Wednesday and asked residents to prepare for more rain. Heatwave conditions are expected to return Thursday.

On Sunday, February 5, temperatures were above 40 °C (104 °F) across much of the city. At 12:40 local time, Observatory Hill reached 34.9 °C (94.8 °F), falling just shy of setting a new record of 10 days above 35 °C (95 °F) in a season.

It is interesting to note that Sunday's demand for water topped the peak of the past 14 years at 2.215 bn litters.

According to The Guardian, it exceeded highest daily usage since January 29, 2004 when there was a demand for 2.273 bn liters. According to Sydney Water, Sydneysiders soaked up 54.4 bn liters of water this January, an average of 1.76 bn liters per day.

The company said in a statement that spikes in water usage were driven by external use such as watering gardens and asked residents to be mindful.

Sydney's water dams are currently at more than 85% of capacity.

Featured image: Sydney flooded on February 7, 2017. Credit: Mark Petersen

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