Eastern Australia hit by severe storms

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Thursday, February 3, 2005

Australia —The whole of the east coast of Australia has been lashed by severe storms in the last 24 hours, with at least one reported death. Wind gusts in some areas reached 110 kilometers per hour, and flash flooding and power cuts were reported from Far North Queensland to Tasmania in the South.

State Emergency Services (SES) crews are stretched to the limit, working into the night to cope with the effects of the freak weather.


Around 29,000 homes in Queensland experienced power outages.

Sixty millimetres of rain fell in an hour on the region around Herberton, in Far North Queensland. A man and woman were rescued from nearby Sandy Creek after their car was swept off the road while trying to cross the Creek during heavy storms last night.

The man had escaped to cling to a tree, but lost sight of his wife as the car was washed away. Rescuers later found the woman on the bank. Neither was seriously injured.

About 150 kilometres to the south-west, a search continues for missing stockman, a 38-year-old from Carpentaria Downs Station near Einasleigh who failed to return after checking fences yesterday.

Heavy rain and large hailstones pummelled Sydney and the Central Coast.

The NSW State Emergency Service reported receiving more than 2,300 requests for assistance, mostly in Western Sydney and Gosford.

"Most of those jobs have been for hail damage to roofs, fallen trees on houses and across roads, flash flooding and water getting into properties," said SES spokesman David Webber.

Around 100,000 homes in NSW experienced power outages.

In the southern Sydney suburb of Bexley North three people were rescued from vehicles when they attempted to drive along a flooded road, and a girl was killed near Mittagong when a tree fell on the tent in which she was sleeping.

Melbourne has been hit by severe flooding as wild storms and heavy rain strike the east coast of Australia. With triple the city's average February rainfall in just 24 hours, major roads and train lines have been cut and travel is extremely difficult.

A search involving police and State Emergency Service volunteers is currently underway for a schoolboy, believed to have been swept into floodwaters north of Werribee, and a 10 year old girl narrowly escaped being killed when a tree fell through the house in which she was sleeping. The tree missed her by centimeters. She was trapped for an hour before being freed by emergency services and taken to the Royal Childrens Hospital in a serious condition.

The Spirit of Tasmania I was also forced to return to Station Pier, in Port Melbourne, after windows were broken when the Bass Strait ferry encountered 20 metre waves caused by the gale force winds.

The city received 120mm of rain in the 24 hours to 9am, while the average monthly rainfall for February is 45mm. Making this the largest measured rainfall in a 24 hour period for Melbourne since records began in 1856. The rainfall stopped sometime this afternoon local time. Authorities urged people to stay away from Melbourne city centre.


South Australia

South Australia has, for the first time in 27 years, experienced hail in February.

See also