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Severe Storm Batters Perth, Australia

Posted by feww on March 23, 2010

Perth, western Australia, pummeled by torrential rains, giant hailstones, flash flooding, landslides and 125km/hour winds gusts

The storm described as a “freak storm” struck the city of Perth late on Monday local time, cutting power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses, with the cost of damage estimated at US$100m.

The force of storm destroyed many roofs including a section of  the terminal roof at Perth airport, delaying flights.

Perth is Australia’s 4th largest city with a population of about 1.7 million.


Lightning strikes a crane at a building site in Perth’s CBD. (submitted by ABC on-line reader: Mateusz Nowacki)

“More than 100 residents of an apartment block in Kings Park had to be evacuated from the building after part of the hill near Jacob’s Ladder collapsed in the storm, causing a landslide on Mounts Bay Road.” ABC online reported.

The storm downed power cables and flooded several schools and hospitals.

“From my memory this would be the most severe weather conditions we’ve had since the famous May storm in 1994, where we had very, very strong winds and a massive loss of power supply,” Western Australia premier Colin Barnett told ABC.

“Hopefully the damage to the power supply won’t be as severe but I suspect this time we’ve got a lot more damage to buildings and housing,” he said.

Barnett said although the full impact of the storm is yet to be unveiled, he feared that the damage bill could run into hundreds of millions of dollars.

“I think from my memory this would be the most severe weather conditions we’ve had since the famous May storm in 1994 where we had very very strong winds and a massive loss of power supply,” he said.

“Hopefully the damage to the power supply won’t be as severe but I suspect this time we’ve got a lot more damage to buildings and housing.”

The storm brought  havoc to the city flooding streets and causing major traffic jams, when it cut power lines that operated the stop lights. Large hailstones smashed cars windshields and dented their roofs.

According to weather reports, the equivalent of about one month’s rain fell in just over 5 minutes.

Meanwhile Australia’s BOM issued the following warning

TOP PRIORITY FOR IMMEDIATE BROADCAST SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING,
for Damaging Winds, Large Hail and Flash Flooding
For people in areas southwest of a line Lancelin, Cunderdin to Hopetoun.

Issued at 2:00pm on Tuesday 23 March 2010

People are advised that there is a risk of severe thunderstorms this afternoon and evening. Storms may be accompanied by damaging winds, large hail and flash flooding that could result in damage to property. The worst conditions are expected in the Southwest District and adjacent parts. While there is the risk
of severe storms in the Perth Metropolitan area, storms are not expected to be as intense as they were yesterday [Monday].

FESA State Emergency Services [SES] advises people to secure loose items, move vehicles under cover and stay inside away from windows. If there is lightning
unplug appliances and avoid using landline telephones. If caught outside find shelter away from trees, powerlines, storm water drains and streams. If driving
through heavy rain slow down and turn your lights on or if visibility becomes low pull over and park until it passes. For SES assistance call 132 500. For
more safety tips visit http://www.fesa.wa.gov.au.

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