A storm cell begins to move into northern Canberra, bringing heavy rain, lightning, and strong winds. Photo: Tim Hughes
The heavy thunderstorms that hit Canberra tonight caused Calvary Hospital to lose all power and have forced the cancellation of the Australia Day Fireworks Spectacular.
The Bureau of Meteorology cancelled the severe thunderstorm warning for Canberra and Queanbeyan about 7.40pm, saying the immediate threat had passed.
Huge thunderstorms hit Belconnen, Civic, Hall and Gungahlin about 6:35 pm and Queanbeyan, Tuggeranong, the Canberra Airport, South Canberra, Weston Creek and Woden Valley after 7pm.
A storm cell hits the ACT, bringing heavy rain, lightning, and strong winds. Photo: Darren Cutrupi
The storm brought damaging winds, heavy rainfall, loud thunder, and frequent lightening, although it is not clear whether the forecasts of large hailstones proved accurate.
There were multiple reports of large trees down, causing some property damage, and flooding has been experienced at some homes and on a number of streets.
Power outages have also affected parts of the city, and a number of traffic lights have gone out.
Calvary Hospital lost all power, both main and auxiliary, for about 30 minutes during the storm.
No patients were affected and no operations were being conducted during the storm.
But the hospital came close to declaring a "code yellow", or an internal disaster, after the auxiliary power failed to kick in automatically.
A hospital spokesman said the issue was being rectified, and was caused by the abnormal and incredible amount of rain.
The State Emergency Service had responded to 120 calls for help by 7.59pm, many of which related to minor flooding and fallen trees in Belconnen and Gungahlin.
There were no reports of major damage, but ACT Fire and Rescue responded to 60 automatic fire alarms during the storm.
Extra firefighting crews have been activated to boost the ability to respond to incidents tonight.
ACT Policing and the Emergency Services Agency have warned Canberrans to take care on the roads, with slippery conditions and low visibility making driving dangerous during the storm.
The SES is urging Canberrans to consider the weather before heading out for Australia Day festivities on Saturday evening.
Organisers of the Fireworks Spectacular at Lake Burley Griffin were forced to cancel the display just before 8pm, an hour before the display was scheduled to start.
The heavy rain had forced many people to leave the area, and organisers cancelled the event for public safety reasons.
Canberrans can follow the Events ACT Facebook page for further updates.
Anyone caught in the storm during Australia Day activities are urged to follow the directions of event organisers.
The Bureau of Meteorology says it will continue to monitor conditions and issue further warnings if necessary.
A more general storm warning issued for the southern tablelands, the Snowy Mountains, and parts of the ACT and the South Coast remains in place.
"Severe thunderstorms are likely to produce damaging winds and large hailstones in the warning area over the next several hours. Locations which may be affected include Orange, Bathurst, Canberra, Goulburn, Cooma, Yass, Parkes, Condobolin, Wagga Wagga, Young, West Wyalong and Tumbarumba," the bureau said.
For emergency help in floods and storms, ring the SES on 132 500.The bureau’s forecast for Canberra, issued this morning, predicted it would be a cloudy day with scattered showers.
"The chance of thunderstorms, becoming more likely during the afternoon.
Winds east to northeasterly 15 to 20 km/h becoming light in the middle of the day then becoming northeasterly 15 to 20 km/h in the early afternoon. Daytime maximum temperatures 25 to 30," the forecast said.