Canberra hit by storms
Our readers got busy photographing as a summer storm hit Canberra on February 19. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Canberra’s emergency services were out in force on Thursday, cleaning up after one of the ACT’s most severe thunderstorms in years.
The sheer amount of rain that was falling in such a short amount of time was phenomenal.Joe Georgelin, SES team leader
Almost 550 calls for help were made to the SES over Wednesday and Thursday, mostly related to fallen trees, flooding and roof damage.
The Bureau of Meterology said Wednesday’s storm was our most severe since November 2012, with one meterologist describing it as ‘‘a big bull’s eye’’ over Canberra.
Sally Hopman was on her property near Bungendore when the storm hit, knocking over enormous trees and causing her roof to leak.
She said she’d never seen weather like that on the property before.
‘‘It was like a little tornado. You couldn’t see out the windows for the rain. It was just sheets of grey and it felt like the house was going to lift up and fly away,’’ she said.
‘‘I was racing around to get buckets to catch all the leaks and I heard this big crack.’’
When she checked on her property on Thursday morning, an enormous gum tree had fallen on her shed and there were two trees blocking her driveway.
According to Ms Hopman, the name of the property is ’Felled Timber’.
‘‘It’s quite ironic, isn’t it?’’ she said.
SES volunteers spent several hours at Mrs Hopman’s property on Thursday, chopping up and removing fallen trees.
Crews also attended a house in Gowrie where the owner had just picked up his children from school when he found his retaining wall had collapsed and the pergola was sagging dangerously.
Overall there were 166 outstanding jobs for SES crews on Thursday morning, which they had wittled it down to just 57 remaining jobs by 4pm.
SES Rivers Unit volunteer Glenn Nott has been out with his team responding to calls for help since 8am on Thursday morning.
He said Ms Hopman’s property near Bungendore was their third job for the day and would take them several hours to clear.
"It’s one of the bigger trees I’ve seen knocked over," he said. "Not the biggest, but one of the bigger ones."
ActewAGL said seven suburbs lost power at some point during the storm, with 552 customers affected by the outages.
The power cuts were caused by trees falling on power lines.
Wednesday may have brought Canberra’s heaviest rainfall in a single day since November 2012, but the wild weather was nowhere close to the capital’s March 1989 record of 126mm.
‘‘Certainly there was a big bull’s eye literally over the ACT suburbs,’’ Bureau senior meteorologist Sean Carson said.
‘‘Basically there was a line that started at Cootamundra and [the rain events] kept following the same path over the suburbs and down to the south of Braidwood.’’
‘‘If you were in that corridor, you got heaps and if you were outside it you didn’t get a lot. North-east New South Wales got pretty much hammered everywhere,’’ he said.
Mr Carson said Goulburn and Cooma both received less than 2mm and parts of Yass received less than 1mm.
‘‘But someone from Yass called us and said they got 55mm, so it depends where you were,’’ he said.
Despite the heavy rainfall, ACTEW Water said there was very little impact on Canberra’s dams due to the storm largely missing the catchment area.
According to ACTEW, the Cotter catchment received only 10-15mm on Wednesday while the Googong dam rose just 0.4 per cent from the deluge.
A spokesperson for ACTEW Water said in a statement that some dams had not risen at all following the storm.
And it should be sunny for at least another few days in the capital, with top temperatures slowly climbing into the low 30s over the next week.
- Friday: 7C, 25C. Mostly sunny.
- Saturday: 8C, 27C. Partly cloudy, light winds.
- Sunday: 9C, 27C. Mostly sunny, light winds.
- Monday: 10C, 31C. Mostly sunny.
- Tuesday: 11C, 30C. Mostly sunny.