Australian Weather News
Wednesday, 04 DEC 2002
cause damage on NSW Mid North Coast
Fires cause damage, chaos around Sydney
Hot in the northeast, cold in the southwest
NEWSBITS: Lightning causes grass fires in Victoria
A trough that moved through the northeastern half of NSW today caused widespread thunderstorms, exaccerbated a difficult fire situation around Sydney and brought unseasonably high temperatures to NSW and Queensland.
Storms with the trough were at their worst on the NSW Hunter and Mid North Coasts. Strong wind gusts but not much rain accompanied the storms causing widespread damage around Taree where a top gust of 98km/h was recorded just before 2pm. About 50 houses in the city were unroofed, trees brought down and major damage caused to businesses in the CBD. Three houses were severely damaged in the Port Stevens area. Other strong wind gusts recorded were 117km/h at Paterson (Tocal Ag College) at 12.21pm, 100 at Scone Airport at 12.48pm and 96km/h at Evans Head at 6.09pm. Power was lost to 1,500 residences in the Hunter Valley. Earlier in the day, strong winds brought dust storms to Grenfell, Hay and Wilcannia with the passage of the trough, and powerlines downed in Kangaroo Valley cut power to 200 homes.
Fires flared in northern, western and southern Sydney this afternoon in strong, dry and hot westerly winds following the passage of the trough. More than 20 houses were destroyed, according to press reports, as some 50 fires flared, disrupting the state's electricity system and throwing transport systems into chaos in the evening peak. The situation was said to be the worst since the Christmas Day outbreaks of 2001, and residents in many northern and southern suburbs were asked to stay home Thursday to help protect their properties. Around 3,000 firefighters were working on the fires by days end. Two huge plumes of smoke were visible across the Sydney basin during the late afternoon:
Fires burning under high voltage powerlines at Holsworthy, Glenfield, Vineyard and Mason Park caused flashovers between wires, causing frequent dips in the power supply throughout Sydney and north into the Hunter Valley. Computers, air-conditioning and telephones were affected, while the spot wholesale electricity price soared from a usual $35/megawatt-hour to $3895 at 4pm as supply disruptions and demand peaked. Major events at the Opera House and Entertainment Centre were cancelled or postponed due to the uncertain power situation. Burnt power poles around Glenorie collapsed, cutting power to 800 residents around Wisemans Ferry.
Both the power dips and the fires caused severe transport disruptions. Power loss to traffic lights coupled with hastily imposed closure of some 14 major roads, including the M4 west, caused gridlock in western suburbs as commuters tried to drive or bus home, with delays of an hour or more commonplace. CBD traffic slowed to a crawl as lights went out or behaved erratically, traffic on Sydney Harbour Bridge stopped and a power loss temporarily closed the M5 eastbound tunnel. On the railways, the East Hills line was cut by fire all evening and Museum Station in the city was evacuated after losing power. Signal failures reduced trains to a crawl, particularly on the city underground where trains were restricted to one track and the bank-up led traffic controllers to stop trains crossing the Harbour Bridge for a time after 6.15.
Elsewhere, fires south of Singleton were burning in the town of Broke and threatening property in the Saxonvale area. A warehouse, shed and caravan west of Nowra were destroyed, and evacuations of 480 residents were in progress in South Nowra. Other fires, significant but not causing concern, were burning northeast of Copmanhurst on the North Coast; near Dungog, southwest of Cessnock, near the Putty Valley and in the Yengo National Park in the Hunter; in the lower Blue Mountains west of Sydney; around Menangle Park and Lucas Heights south of Sydney; and to the west of Nowra, north of Shoalhaven Heads, west and southwest of Moruya on the South Coast.
High temperatures prevailed over most of Queensland and the northeast of NSW today. Across western Queensland, the mercury reached into the mid-40s, with Cloncurry recording a top of 45.5 after an unusually high overnight minimum of 30.6. Gatton, west of Brisbane, set a new December high record with a top of 42.0. Temperatures also reached well into the 40s along parts of the NSW coast, with maxima commonly 10 to 13 above normal, and Grafton recording a top of 41.9. It was a different story in southern WA, where frost-level minimum temperatures were recorded. Bridgetown, Jarrahwood and Salmon Gums all recorded lows of 1°, around 10 or 11 below normal, with the latter two stations setting new December records.
NEWSBITS: Lightning strikes overnight caused dozens of grassfires in NE Victoria. Fires were reported from the Goulburn, Ovens and Kiewa valleys. No property was damaged, though fire crews had a busy night.
weather extremes for today
|Quality control note: Data is complete, and has been visually checked by AWN for gross errors. Less obvious errors may remain. See Explanation of Extremes Pages for more information
set this day (previous record and years of computerised record shown in
Lowest daily minimum temperature for December:
Jarrahwood WA: 1.0 (2.5, 25)
Salmon Gums Res Stn WA: 1.0 (1.7, 32)
Highest daily maximum temperature for December:
Gatton (Uni of Qld) Qld: 42.0 (41.8, 37)
Todays highest rainfall totals for the 24 hours to 9am. It includes the top 5 totals received, and/or all reported falls of 50mm or more.
80.0 NICHOLSON E Kimberley WA
High rainfall for periods of 6 hours or less.
Todays highest & lowest temperatures
45.5 CLONCURRY AIRPORT Gulf Country QLD
45.0 WINTON AIRPORT
45.0 CANNINGTON MINE Northwest QLD
44.6 TOORAK RESEARCH STATION Gulf Country QLD
44.5 LONGREACH AERO Central West QLD
30.6 CLONCURRY AIRPORT Gulf Country QLD
30.0 WYNDHAM POST OFFICE N Kimberley WA
29.7 RICHMOND POST OFFICE Upper Carpentaria QLD
29.5 QUILPIE AIRPORT Far SW QLD
29.3 BOULIA AIRPORT Channel Country QLD
29.3 THARGOMINDAH AIRPORT Far SW QLD
5.6 MOUNT READ W Coast TAS
8.0 THREDBO (CRACKENBACK STATION) AWS Snowy Mtns NSW
8.0 CRADLE MOUNTAIN AIRSTRIP Central Plateau TAS
8.1 LOOKOUT HILL Western Plains VIC
8.9 MOUNT LOFTY Mt Lofty Ranges SA
1.0 BRIDGETOWN SW & S Coast WA
1.0 JARRAHWOOD SW & S Coast WA
1.0 SALMON GUMS RES.STN. Goldfields WA
1.0 MOUNT BULLER Upper NE VIC
1.3 JACUP Gt Southern WA
Todays greatest temperature variations from normal
36.0 JERVIS BAY (POINT PERPENDICULAR LIGHTHOU Illawarra NSW
+12.3 41.9 GRAFTON OLYMPIC POOL North Coast NSW
+12.2 40.6 TAREE (RADIO STATION 2RE) MidNorth Coast S NSW
+12.1 39.3 WILLIAMTOWN RAAF Hunter Valley NSW
+11.3 40.6 CESSNOCK (NULKABA) Hunter Valley NSW
+11.3 36.9 SYDNEY AIRPORT AMO Sydney--east NSW
21.5 BOMBALA POST OFFICE Goulburn/Monaro NSW
+11.0 25.9 DUNEDOO POST OFFICE CW Slopes N NSW
+10.7 28.4 COONAMBLE COMPARISON CW Plains N NSW
+10.7 25.4 QUIRINDI POST OFFICE NW Slopes S NSW
+10.1 29.0 BREWARRINA HOSPITAL Upper Darling NSW
16.2 MARYBOROUGH (DERBY STREET) N Central VIC
-9.8 19.1 LAMEROO Upper SE SA
-9.8 14.9 STRATHBOGIE Lower NE VIC
-9.6 18.0 LONGERENONG Wimmera S VIC
-9.5 21.3 KYANCUTTA W Agricultural SA
-9.5 19.0 WARRACKNABEAL MUSEUM Wimmera N VIC
-9.5 15.9 CASTLEMAINE PRISON N Central VIC
1.0 SALMON GUMS RES.STN. Goldfields WA
-10.3 1.0 JARRAHWOOD SW & S Coast WA
-9.7 4.4 NORSEMAN Goldfields WA
-8.7 3.5 KATANNING COMPARISON Gt Southern WA
-8.3 4.4 RAVENSTHORPE Gt Southern WA
-8.3 6.8 KELLERBERRIN Cent Wheatbelt WA
Highest wind gusts above 89km/h or mean wind above 62km/h (gale force). Wind direction and mean windspeed shown in brackets.
NEPTUNE ISLAND W Agricultural SA : 83 (240/ 63 ) at 11:09