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Severe thunderstorm, record rain hit Darwin, Northern Territory


A severe thunderstorm swept through Darwin on January 28, 2018, causing flash floods and downing trees and power lines. Darwin is the capital city (population of 145 916) of the sparsely populated Northern Territory of Australia. This region is famous for its summer monsoon season, generally running from December to March. However, some areas received twice their January average in just three days while others broke their daily rainfall records.

Destructive cells were felt across the region, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Angeline Prasard said. In addition, it's been raining for more than a week, making the ground very soggy, she said. "With these destructive cells, it was strong enough to topple trees."

The video below shows an extremely intense and damaging microburst hitting Darwin on January 28. A microburst is a brief, intense wind surge, usually lasting from a couple of seconds to several minutes.

Authorities said that more than 30 calls for emergency assistance were made across the greater Darwin area, mostly due to downed trees and power lines. Seven vehicles were rescued over the weekend across the territory after attempting to drive through flood waters.

The Darwin Airport received 286 mm (11.2 inches) in just three days (Friday – Sunday), Dum-In-Mirrie off Dundee recorded 234 mm (9.2 inches), while the worst affected was Humpty Doo in Darwin's rural area with 423 mm (16.6 inches), close to this region's entire January average.

With 228 mm (8.9 inches) on January 28, Noonamah broke its highest recorded daily rainfall while Middle Point broke its record with 214 mm (8.4 inches) on the same day.

Wind gusts to 125 km/h (77 mph) were expected across the region.

The storm left more than 4 500 properties without power, with the worst affected parts of the Darwin city, Parap, Stuart Park and Woolner. While the power has since been restored, the Northern Territory Power and Water Corporation warned of "power interruptions" are expected in some areas like Fannie Bay, Parap, The Narrows, Woolner, Channel Island, Weddell and Wickham due to continued severe weather.

In addition, heavy rain over the past couple of days affected mobile phones, land lines, internet services and ATMs, especially across the Top End. Some places, like Wadeye, Peppimenarti and Palumpa are still cut off due to fibre optics cable break near Daly River on Friday, January 26.

"Our infrastructure has sustained some damage due to lightning strikes and very heavy rainfall," Telstra general manager said.

Vigorous monsoonal conditions are expected to continue into the new week and ease from late Tuesday night and Wednesday, BOM said.

Featured image: Darwin, NT after a violent thunderstorm on January 28, 2018. Credit: Dameyon @DameyonBonson (pics via @bstweho)


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One Comment

  1. Never ever let children play on fresh fallen tree like in the photo! After powerful Hurricane Hugo went through the Carolinas, a fallen tree was being cut up and just like this one, there were children playing around it. As the weight of the limbs came off, the tree stump suddenly stood back upright. A boy who had been playing in the hole was instantly crushed to death. I heard later that trees blown over like this one will quite often right themselves when the top weight is cut off. Keep everyone away from the Hole!

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