Storms return but a cooler spell possible by the weekend

A massive shelf cloud ploughs along the Sydney coast as severe storms hit the City. Mona Vale. Pic Nick Moir 9 jan 2018 WEATHER: A big storm hits Bondi Beach in the early evening, on 9 January 2018. Photo: Jessica Hromas

WEATHER: A big storm hits Tamarama Beach in the early evening, on 9 January 2018. Photo: Jessica Hromas

SMH. Weather generic. 9th of January 2018. People watch as a storm approaches Clovelly from the south. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Thunderstorms again battered Sydney on Tuesday evening, cutting power to thousands of homes after almost 22,000 lightning strikes hit the city in the early morning.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe thunderstorm warning just after 6pm for large hailstones, damaging winds, heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding.

Thunderstorms swept across the Sydney basin towards the north-east, impacting a wide area including the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury region, Greater Wollongong, Sydney, Wollondilly and Wingecarribee.

A forecast released by the Bureau of Meteorology showed a huge storm front advancing up the coast.

Storms approach Sydney early on Tuesday evening. Photo: Bureau of Meteorology

About 11,000 homes and businesses in Sydney, the Illawarra and the Southern Highlands lost power in the storm, Endeavour Energy said, after the network suffered “extensive” damage.

“Damage has been caused by very strong winds bringing trees and branches over power lines and lightning strikes to two major substations,” a spokesperson said.

“Power has been lost to the Bulli Zone Substation after lightning damaged both major cables to the site.

“Endeavour Energy is bringing in extra crews to assist with restoration efforts, but has asked customers to be patient due to the extensive damage to the network.”

Just before 11pm on Tuesday, Endeavour Energy said it had restored power to all but 2100 customers, and several hundred customers were not expected to have their power restored until Wednesday morning.

The main suburbs affected included Prospect, Seven Hills, Kurrajong, Winmalee, Appin, Helensburgh, Stanwell Park, Douglas Park, Wilton and Otford.

In the Southern Highlands, suburbs hit by the power outage include Bowral, Berry, Kangaroo Valley and Broughton Vale.

Swimmers taking a dip at Bondi made a hasty exit as dark clouds and shelf clouds started gathering on the coast, while storm watchers at Mona Vale, Clovelly and Tamarama paused to take photos.

The worst of the storm had passed by 8pm, when the Bureau said the “immediate threat of severe thunderstorms has passed”. In its place, Sydney was treated to an orange-pink sunset and a rainbow.

Large wind gusts were recorded in the state’s south and west on Tuesday afternoon, with a gust of 98km/h felt at Parkes at 3.59pm, 122km/h recorded at Nowra at 4.54pm, and 92km/h felt at Condobolin at 2.40pm.

A general severe thunderstorm warning remained in place on Tuesday night for Newcastle, Gosford, Mudgee, Tamworth, Gunnedah and Dubbo.

Storms early on Tuesday morning, which delivered the large number of lightning strikes as monitored by Weatherzone, also caused power outages and train delays for morning commuters.

Lightning affected the train network across Sydney, including the T3 Bankstown Line which was disrupted by a morning strike.

Thunderstorms could remain a possibility in coming days, particularly in western parts of Sydney, said Weatherzone meteorologist Kim Westcott.

Sydney, though, can expect some relief from the recent heat, with daytime temperatures easing back to more typical levels for January of about 25-26 degrees.

The next bout of heat should arrive from Friday, with the mercury nudging back towards 30 degrees.

The western suburbs, though, will again be in for some hot days, with 35 degrees tipped for Penrith on Friday and another day of 40 degrees for Saturday.

Sunday may feel even cool, with a top of 23 degrees forecast for the city and 28 in the west.

Storms may bring the best chance for more than the odd few millimetres of rain over the next week. Penrith could receive as much as 20 millimetres of rain on Saturday, the bureau said.

Weatherzone is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this website.

with Rachel Clun

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