A rare tornado ripped through Geelong, Victoria on May 20, 2020, damaging more than 100 houses, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) confirmed.
An investigation was launched by the BOM after intense storms caused havoc near Geelong on Wednesday, May 20.
"A line of thunderstorms approached Geelong and intensified quite rapidly over about 10 minutes and within that line of thunderstorms some cells pitched off little tornadoes," said the bureau's Victorian Weather Services Manager Peter Otto.
"There have been impacts on their homes that will affect their lives for some time yet," he added. "It must have been terrifying for the poor residents there."
The preliminary verdicts showed that a line of thunderstorms approaching Melbourne from the west rapidly strengthened to turn into a tornado, which had winds of up to 160 km/h (100 mph).
"So really quite a violent wind gust came across in a very short period of time in a very narrow corridor at night."
Otto noted that while such extreme storms are not unusual in the state, it was "very rare to get such a strong impact." The State Emergency Services received 242 calls for help across Victoria during that day.
The preliminary verdict is in! We used these images & ground reports to deduce a tornado was responsible for Wednesday's damage at Waurn Ponds and Mt Duneed (near Geelong). Wind gusts up to 160km/h. Tornado blog and explanation of how tornadoes form at https://t.co/Coen53PJNS pic.twitter.com/jSkLk7YhKf— Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria (@BOM_Vic) May 22, 2020
The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed it was a tornado that ripped through Waurn Ponds earlier this week, destroying at least four homes and leaving dozens more badly damaged. https://t.co/5zYfOfohG3 @JaneBunn #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/2GtmX940gS— 7NEWS Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) May 22, 2020
There are around 60 tornadoes per year in Australia, most of them in New South Wales and Queensland, with only one or two in Victoria each year.
BOM's Victorian Manager Andrew Tupper said it was likely an EF-1 intensity tornado. "They are rare in Victoria, but with tornados we don't always observe them."
"The difference with this tornado is that it went through a suburb of Geelong so that's unlucky when a tornado goes through such a built-up area," he continued.
Otto also noted that the storm formed in a corridor around 60 m (197 feet), making it consistent with a twister.
The tornado damaged more than 100 houses, with four homes left uninhabitable. A resident described the scene looking like a "war zone," adding that it just "come through on one straight line and just wiped out roofs on houses. It's just carnage everywhere."
Another resident said it was the most terrifying night of her light. "I saw the flash of light first and then it was the bang." She continued, "Then it just all broke loose and you could hear debris hitting the house. It was like ice in a blender just magnified."
Featured image credit: ABC News/YouTube