Thousands without power after five-minute freak storm
FEROCIOUS five-minute storm left a trail of destruction across Sydney yesterday, cutting power to 76,000 homes, closing roads and train lines, unroofing homes and felling huge trees that crushed cars.
But in a demonstration of nature's crazy unpredictability, elsewhere in the state the wild weather brought pre-summer snowfalls in Perisher and sparked new bushfires from lightning strikes near Gospers Mountain.
The storm hit greater Sydney not long after noon with the worst-affected areas stretching from the north and south of the city.
It was brief but left a lasting imprint and commuter chaos in its wake.
November 26th and it’s puking snow!! ❄️❄️😱 pic.twitter.com/RBEO9f52Si— Perisher Ski Resort (@PerisherResort) November 26, 2019
By 2pm, trains had stopped running between Gordon and Berowra while fallen trees at Gordon ground transport to a halt on the Central Coast and Newcastle lines.
The Pacific Highway was jammed after trees blocked three of four lanes at Pymble.
The Bureau of Meteorology recorded wind gusts peaked at 104km/h at Fort Denison in the harbour but due to the speed of the storm little rain fell with the most recorded at Woronora Dam with 16mm and just 2.4mm in Sydney city.
London Olympic sailor Olivia Price said she couldn't see the car in front of her while driving in Rushcutters Bay in the middle of the storm.
"It was like a five-minute cyclone," Price said.
"And there was ash and smoke coming out of everywhere. It made everything really dark. There were branches and leaves swirling around the streets."
In Bondi, the roof of the Sundeck Building was torn off leaving residents terrified.
Resident Maria Noirat, 23, said she was too frightened to leave her house.
"It was so scary, the wind was so strong and I heard such a loud noise, I was too scared to come out of the house at first," she said.
"The winds were so strong and it was raining very hard. I've never seen anything like it, it came out of nowhere. It's very lucky nobody got injured."
Ali Mohamed, 38, who lives next door to the Sundeck Building was driving past when he saw the roof fall off and land on the road.
"At the time there was about 20 people walking by and on the street," he said.
"It's so lucky nobody got hurt. It was very loud and very scary, the roof just came crashing off on the road and split into pieces.
"There's still some unsecured roof left dangling that I'm worried about, if there is another gust of wind it could it could blow right off."
The storm caused chaos for commuter Dan Abraham with his usual 40-minute trip from Gordon to Sydney taking three hours.
He was forced to leave his car in Gordon because all roads were blocked by fallen trees. "It was a hell of a fierce storm and it lasted for all of 55 seconds," he said.
At the storm's peak there were 76,000 homes without power as lightning strikes and wind gusts brought down power lines.
The SES had 1279 calls for help across the state, 1130 of which were in an arc across greater Sydney. St Vincent's College in Kings Cross was struck by lightning forcing the school into lockdown while across town in Forestville the Our Lady of Good Counsel Early Learning Centre was shut after fallen trees blocked the entry and cut power.
In Ingleburn, a tree fell on to a home and a woman was taken to hospital as a precaution.
Ausgrid reported 51,500 homes in the Greater Sydney, Lake Macquarie and Central Coast areas lost power while 25,000 Endeavour Energy customers were affected.
Ausgrid spokesman Shaun Fewings said lightning had caused many power outage.
The State Operations Centre is in full swing this afternoon. The @NSWSES dealing with numerous storm related incidents across #sydney and #NSWRFS with now more than 110 fires across the state, many as a result of the lightning with the recent storms. pic.twitter.com/geTwggfNIx— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) November 26, 2019