Sydney gets windswept
Kevin Rudd isn't the only one getting buffeted by the wind, trees have also been uprooted and roofs torn down due to wild weather in Sydney on Monday.PT0M57S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2rrul 620 349 August 12, 2013
The strongest winds in months have buffeted parts of Sydney and a wide swathe of NSW, uprooting hundreds of trees, damaging homes and leaving thousands of premies without power.
The Bureau of Meteorology said a "vigorous cold front" that swept into the city from central NSW on Monday morning had brought wind gusts of almost 100km/h at the airport.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was buffeted by wind gusts at Macquarie University in the seat of Bennelong in Sydney. Photo: Andrew Meares
Rob Sharpe, a meteorologist at Weatherzone, said the winds were probably the strongest to hit the city since last summer. The wind gusts reached 87 km/h in Penrith, a "quite rare" event for the region outside thunderstorms, he said.
The State Emergency Service said it had received more than 635 calls for help since 10.30 Monday morning, with more than 300 trees coming down.
The calls continue to mount at the rate of about two per minute as people return home from work. More than 38 SES crews are out in the field.
The remnants of a cubbyhouse and children's toys at The Oaks, west of Camden. Photo: Nathan B/SES Facebook
One house in Oak Street, Lugarno in Sydney's south had three trees collapse on it, SES spokeswoman Danielle Wearne said.
‘‘In Epping, a verandah has been stripped and has flown onto the roof of a house, damaging a chimney and sending tiles everywhere,’’ Ms Wearne said.
"Most of our jobs are for southern and western Sydney but we are getting reports from other areas as well. It’s definitely impacting on the metropolitan area."
A trampoline comes to rest in Hawkesbury Heights. Photo: Lee G/SES Facebook
The weather bureau had issued a severe weather warning for the Hunter Valley through to the South Coast and across to the Snowy Mountains and the ACT. By late Monday, the bureau had reduced the region covered by the warning to the Snowy Mountains and the ACT.
Damaging winds averaging more than 80 km/h werebeen forecast for alpine areas above 1900 metres on Monday, possibly leading to blizzard conditions. Gusts may reach 120km/h.
“These winds should begin to ease in the early hours of [Tuesday] morning across the Sydney basin,” said Tim Constable, a duty forecaster at the bureau.
He said they would pick up again in the afternoon but they "probably won't be as strong as they are now".
The politicians, meanwhile, couldn't dodge mother nature, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd copping a wind blast while visiting Macquarie University during a campaign swing through Sydney.
UNSW fared worse with the wind damaging the roof of one building, disrupting some classes.
‘‘A strong wind gust removed a sheet of roofing from the main Library at the UNSW Kensington campus,’’ a UNSW spokeswoman said.
‘‘For safety purposes the area adjacent to the Library was cordoned off and the building locked down. A number of afternoon lectures in adjacent theatres have also been cancelled. ‘‘
Paramedics in Sydney and the Illawarra region have already responded to several calls for help as a result of strong winds.
In one extraordinary case a tree fell on a Punchbowl woman, but left her with only a small cut to her head.
She was taken to Bankstown Hospital in a stable condition.
The NSW Ambulance Service has warned people to stay away from coastal waters.
Paramedics treated a man for hyperthermia after his canoe overturned on Lake Illawarra.
A kayaker who fell into the water near Avoca Beach clung to a buoy until lifesavers rescued him.
Power, traffic woes
Power crews have also been busy, with thousands of homes and businesses losing electricity. Southern suburbs such as Heathcote and Kirrawee were among the hardest hit.
As of 6.45pm, about 1500 Ausgrid customers remained without power with the largest pockets of outages in Dulwich Hill, Lane Cove and Woolooware.
At the height of the storm, about 10,000 premises lost electricity.
"It does look like it’s quietened down a bit but (the winds) may have just loosened the branches on the trees," said Phillipa Wheeler, an Ausgrid spokeswoman. "Crews are on standby ready for anything that happens."
Endeavour Energy, meanwhile, said more than 17,000 customers had lost power during the wind storms. As of 9.20pm, about 1500 premises were still to be reconnected.
These outages were scattered across a wide region ranging from the lower Blue Mountains, to western Sydney and southern suburbs in the Macarthur region, such as Silverdale, Oakdale and Camden, said Peter Payne, an Endeavour spokesperson.
"We'll finish up working at about 11pm," Mr Payne said. "About 700 will be without supply tonight."
Many of those to be connected tomorrow were single-customer services, requiring "lots of man hours", he said.
Downed trees on major roads may hamper response times, the Transport Management Centre said.
‘‘We’re just asking people to really exercise caution, take care when they’re out either on the roads or travelling home by public transport this afternoon,’’ spokeswoman Bronwyn Martin told the ABC.
‘‘It’s going to be a tricky one for people to get home with these strong winds.’’
Citybound train services resumed between Glenfield and Revesby after a fallen tree on the tracks at Panania forced the partial closure of the Airport and East Hills line.
The NSW Rural Fire Service says it has already attended a number of bush and grass fires fanned by the strong winds.
Chopper rescues, roads
The Westpac Life Saver helicopter has been sent on five search and rescue missions over 90 minutes on Monday afternoon.
Four boats were overturned due to the strong winds, three in waters around Sydney’s south and the other near Jervis Bay.
Henry Lawson Drive has been reopened in both directions at Picnic Point, in Sydney’s southwest, after a fallen tree was cleared, the Transport Management Centre said.
The temperature fell about four degrees in one hour in the city, after reaching a maximum of 24.4 degrees at 12.30pm.
The western suburbs may get some rain but most of Sydney is likely to stay dry, Mr Constable said.
The temperature should reach 21 degrees on Tuesday, while the rest of the week is likely to see maximums well above the long-term August average of 17.8 degrees.
Another "very strong cold front" could reach Sydney by next Saturday, Weatherzone's Mr Sharpe said. The front would bring strong winds but also "a fair bit of snow for the Alps", he said.
With James Robertson, and AAP