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Record rain, wild electrical storms hit southeast Australia

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A strong cold front moved through southeast Australia on September 8 and 9, 2016, producing severe thunderstorms, very heavy rain, and powerful winds. Some regions experienced the heaviest rain in six years. The worst of the storms are over now, but the Australian Bureau of Meteorology warns some parts of the southeast will see more severe weather through the weekend and over the next week.

Severe thunderstorms in South Australia have cut power to thousands of people over the past two days. At the height of the storms, about 10 000 properties have lost power, most of them on the Eyre Peninsula. In some parts of the state, properties were without electricity and phone services for more than 24 hours after transmission lines were damaged.

Adelaide saw more than 19 000 lightning strikes on September 8 and about 30 mm (1.18 inches) of rain was reported in its eastern suburbs in just 30 minutes, making September 8 Adelaide’s wettest September day in six years.

Flash flooding covered most of the city and emergency services said they reacted to more than 150 calls for help overnight. One car was hit by a lightning while driving in Adelaide’s southern suburb. The driver was taken to the hospital in stable condition. 

Meteorologist Stevie Jones said what they saw there was tropical moisture feeding into two cold fronts moving through Western Australia earlier in the week, causing some damage, and then over South Australia on Thursday and Friday (September 8 and 9) and into western Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania.

Victoria was set to get hit by pretty hard, with a month worth of rain in just one day. This has also been exacerbated by above average sea temperatures over the east coast of Australia, feeding moisture over Australia and making these rain events even heavier.

“The heavy rain came at a very bad timing because the river catchments are full at the moment with the amount of rain they received over winter,” Jones said.

“New South Wales had its third wettest winter on record, South Australia its wettest winter in 15 years and areas of northern Tasmania had wettest 4 months ever on record. The catchments are full, the ground is saturated with water which makes this a very bad timing for such heavy rain.”

Current weather warnings
as of 10:15 UTC on September 10, 2016 / 18:15 AWST / 19:45 ACST / 20:15 AEST
Western Australia
Queensland NSW and ACT



Featured image credit: JMA/Himawari acquired September 10, 2016

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