Homes Still Without Power after Sydney’s Tornado-Like Storm

By Steve Milne
Steve Milne
Steve Milne
December 20, 2021 Updated: December 20, 2021

Thousands of homes remain without power on Sydney’s Northern Beaches on Tuesday after a brief but devastating tornado-like storm tore through the area on Sunday afternoon.

New South Wales (NSW) State Emergency Service (SES) reported that the storm caused significant damage to properties, trees, and powerlines.

One fatality occurred in the suburb of Narrabeen when a Norfolk pine fell and struck a woman. She was declared deceased at the scene while her two friends were critically injured and taken to Royal North Shore Hospital.

As of Monday at 8 a.m., SES had received around 600 requests for assistance in the Northern Beaches area and response efforts continued through Monday with the help of NSW Fire and Rescue and NSW Police.

Ausgrid, which manages Sydney’s electricity network, said in a statement on Monday evening that they had restored power to around 17,500 premises and expect the majority of premises to have the power back on in the next few days.

With the severity of the damage, additional crews from neighbouring network Endeavour Energy, as well as contractors, have been brought in to assist Ausgrid in their repair efforts, which include rebuilding some parts of the network.

“It’s a very difficult time of year to be without power, and we apologise for the delays. We are doing everything we can to turn the lights back on as soon as possible. Where we can, we are progressively turning the power back on, and as always, the safety of our customers and staff remains our number one priority,” the Ausgrid statement said.

NSW SES said that storms also damaged other areas of southern and south-eastern NSW, including Albury and Cootamundra; the Albury storm caused a ceiling collapse at the Big W complex in the inland city.

NSW has been experiencing extreme weather conditions around the state, with flooding happening throughout November.

This comes after the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) declared a La Nina climate condition for the southern continent, with the NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York warning communities state-wide could expect adverse weather conditions for months to come.

“With saturated catchments, heavy rain has already led to major flooding for many communities in western NSW and the Mid North Coast in recent weeks,” she said.

BOM defines La Nina as increased rainfall across much of the country, with cooler daytime temperatures south of the tropics but warmer overnight temperatures in the north. There is a shift in temperature extremes and a decreased risk of frost. Tropical cyclones become more frequent, and the onset of monsoon is earlier.

Steve Milne