Photo from Mt Ainslie during Saturday night's storm in Canberra. Photo: Allison Moy
Wild winds are buffeting the capital and rain is beginning to fall as the predicted storm front moves through.
The change should bring relief to Canberra firefighters who have tackled a string of small grassfires throughout the suburbs since this morning.
However, the storms are also bringing lightning strikes to the southern parts of the territory, according to ACT Rural Fire Service chief Andrew Stark.
"There's still quite a potential for more fires to develop this afternoon," he said.
"We've got a lightning detector and we're just starting to see evidence of that at this time."
The ESA is keeping a close eye on Namadgi National Park as storms move through.
Emergency services personnel have been on high-alert today, with a total fire ban and extreme bushfire.
Earlier in the day the Bureau of Meteorology said there was a chance of a storm, but likely with little rain reaching the ground.
Spots of rain began to fall in Fyshwick about 4.30pm. The winds, gusting at up to 80 km/h, have knocked down trees and branches across the city.
At 5.50pm the ACT Emergency Services Agency said it had responded to 122 requests for help, mostly due to fallen trees and branches across roads, cars and property, with some minor damage also reported to pergolas, houses and fences.
Woden Cemetery has been closed until further notice due to high winds.
Meteorologist Ken Batt said the ACT was likely to stay warm through the afternoon. The capital reached a top of 38 degrees at 4.08pm.
"It's windy, it's hot, it's dry and it's expected to stay that way into the evening before the winds ease and the temperature starts to drop away and the humidity comes up," Mr Batt said.
The Bureau had earlier forecast a southerly change to make it to the capital in the evening, about 7 or 8pm.
In addition to the possible storm, a damaging wind warning has also been issued for the ACT region, forecasting gusts up to 100km/h in some areas.
Lightning could also cause further havoc to Canberra United in the W-League.
Bad weather has already delayed their crucial match against Western Sydney Wanderers twice, firstly for extreme heat on Saturday afternoon, then the electrical storm on Saturday night forced the game to be abandoned after 33 minutes. They’re due to replay the match at 7pm tonight.
Meanwhile paramedics have treated 19 people for heat-related conditions between 7am and 3pm today.
The oldest patient was 90 years old; the youngest was 14. The ACT Ambulance Service took 15 patients to hospital for further treatment.
The ACT Emergency Services Agency, in a statement, reminded Canberrans to drink plenty of water.
‘‘Keeping cool and hydrated is key to staying safe and healthy during hot summer days,’’ they said.
‘‘Most importantly, don’t forget your elderly and frail relatives and neighbours, and pay special attention to the health needs of babies and young children who can be adversely affected by the heat.’’
Cool change to bring temporary relief
The southerly change heading towards Canberra hit Merimbula about 2pm today, nearly halving the temperature there over a two hour period - from 41 degrees at 1.07pm to 22.6 degrees at 3pm.
The same cold front will bring a cooler day to the capital on Wednesday, with a top of 29 degrees and gentle winds forecast.
But the relief will be short-lived. The thermometer is tipped to head back up to a top of 36 degrees on Friday, before near-identical conditions on Saturday as experienced today, with a top of 37 degrees and west to north-westerly winds.
Another cool change is tipped to arrive by Sunday.
with Hamish Boland-Rudder