Storms cause blackouts, delays
Storms this evening blacked out thousands of Hunter Valley homes and halted
operations at Sydney Airport for 90 minutes. A very slow-moving trough was
responsible for the storms. High humidity levels have been building up in the
trough across NSW over the past few days, and today these were accompanied
by significant instability and a weak upper-atmosphere jetstream which combined
to produce an area of strong middle-atmosphere uplift over central eastern
NSW. Storms developed west of the Blue Mountains around 3pm, and by 6pm there
was a continuous line of storms from Sydney to Bourke along the trough line,
with another storm complex developing NE of the trough in the upper Hunter
Valley. The whole system moved slowly NE, with storms gradually dissipating
during the early hours of Friday. However, individual storm cells tended to
so that many locations experienced a succession of storms during the evening.
In the Hunter Valley, strong squally winds accompanied some storms giving
gusts to 104km/h at Scone and 81km/h at Newcastle Nobbys. Lightning strikes
and powerlines downed by the wind cut power to about 8,000 properties in Newcastle,
Pokolbin, Cessnock, Maitland, Muswellbrook and Scone. About 450, mostly in
more remote locations, were still without power at dawn Friday. To the west,
at Wellington, a petrol tanker about to make a delivery to a service station
was hit by lightning, fortunately resulting in nothing more than a loud bang
and a shower of sparks. At Sydney Airport there were extensive delays as ground
staff ceased work during
warning period from 6pm to 7.30pm. Thousands of passengers were stuck in planes
or at check-in counters, with Qantas saying 33 domestic and 6 international
flights were held on the tarmac, unable to dock or take off.
heavy, was short-lived (see downpours for today and Friday).
The highest downpours were in the Hunter, where Scone Airport recorded 28.6mm
in 15 minutes around
midnight out of a storm total of 39mm (9pm to 3am) and Williamtown RAAF Base
reported 18.2mm in the hour to midnight, then a further 25.0mm in the hour
to 3am Friday.
Bushfire burns south of Perth
A bushfire that began on private property west of Collie yesterday afternoon
spread into the Wellington National Park overnight. Six water-bombing aircraft
and 100 firefighters were battling the blaze in rugged country today as
popular camping places in the park were evacuated and closed. Around 130
hectares had been burnt out by late today in warm but relatively windless
WA, NT, QLD:
Monsoonal showers and storms continue
A mildly active monsoon trough north of the continent continues to bring
patchy heavy rainfall from storms, squall lines and showers across northern
coastal areas of the WA Kimberley, the NT Top End and QLD's Cape York Peninsula.
A storm and squall line passed across Broome around 7 this morning, giving
32.0mm of rain, of which 18.2mm fell in 20 minutes to 6.59am. In the Territory,
Alyangula on Groote Eylandt recorded 60mm between 9am and 3pm while across
the Gulf of Carpentaria, Coconut Island, off the tip of Cape York, recorded
84mm during the same period.
Dust keeps visibility low in Alice Springs area
A broad area of dust filled the air in parts of the southern NT,
limiting visibility to between 1 and 4km for most of the day. Alice Springs
Airport's lowest reported visibility was 1.5km at noon, while Arltunga,
90km ENE reported 1km at 6 and 9am and Watarrka, 250km WSW, reported
4km at 9am.