Thousands without power as winter blast smashes east coast

·News Editor
·5-min read

Eastern Australia is shivering through a wintery blast, with wild wilds and flooding prompting thousands of calls for help in Victoria, while Sydney is expecting its coldest day of the year so far on Thursday.

Thousands of people were left without power on Wednesday night with a Victoria SES spokesperson telling the Herald Sun 12,000 United Energy, 86,000 Aus Net and 28,000 PowerCor customers were plunged into darkness across the state. 

As of 8.30am on Thursday, Victoria SES tweeted it had received more than 4000 calls in the past 24 hours for assistance for trees down, building damage and flooding. 

Strong winds are expected to hit metropolitan Melbourne on Thursday. Source: Getty
Strong winds are expected to hit metropolitan Melbourne on Thursday. Source: Getty

A severe weather warning is in place for parts of the state, with damaging south and southeasterly winds forecast for Central, North Central and parts of the South West, Northern Country and West and South Gippsland districts. 

Winds averaging 50 to 60km/h with peak gusts of 100km/h are expected, including in the Melbourne metropolitan area. 

Peak gusts were expected to reach 115 to 120k/h in areas above 400m early this morning and gusts of 110km/h are predicted until mid morning. 

The Gippsland coast is also expected to cop winds of up to 110km/h until late Thursday morning. 

The dark purple areas show the strongest wind gusts in Victoria. Source: Windy.com
The dark purple areas show the strongest wind gusts in Victoria. Source: Windy.com

The Bureau of Meteorology says the winds will likely ease on Thursday morning. 

The strongest winds in the state since 9am Wednesday up to 4.30am Thursday have been at Puckapunyal in the central part of the state, where gusts reached 119km/h about 10pm. 

The bureau added severe weather was no longer occurring in the North East and Wimmera districts and warnings had been cancelled. 

Town braces for flooding event

There is also a warning of severe rainfall that could lead to flash flooding in Central, North Central and parts of the South West, Northern Country and West and South Gippsland districts.

Since 9am on Wednesday, rainfall between 50 to 150mm has been recorded in the forecast districts, with peak falls exceeding 200m. 

The BoM said over the next six hours rainfall totals would be between 20 to 40mm with a peak of 70mm expected. 

It is predicted the heavy rain will move west as the morning progresses and the risk of flash flooding will ease. 

"Riverine flooding remains a significant hazard and many flood warnings are current for the area," BoM said. 

Vic Emergency however released a warning on its website that major flooding was likely at Traralgon in the Gippsland region.

"Major flooding likely to develop during Thursday with a peak similar to the June 2012 flood event," the warning said.

Since 9am Wednesday, 235mm of rain has been recorded across the Traralgon Creek catchment. 

Mt Baw Baw was also lashed with 222mm of rain while Mt Tassie copped 214mm and 201mm fell at Thomson-Yarra Divide. 

Victorian SES commander Jackson Bell said he had not seen a weather event like this in the state for some time.

"We've got one part of the state experiencing the significant rain and then we've got another part of the state, particularly metropolitan Melbourne and other parts, experiencing significant wind of extraordinary amounts of speed," he told Nine's Today.

"As you would have seen from the devastation, it will be days to come in the clean up that's for sure."

NSW a winter wonderland as temperatures plummet

NSW has not been spared of a chilly start to winter, with snow falling on Wednesday and through the night in regional NSW, including Orange in the state's Central West and Oberon in the Central Tablelands. 

Sydney is expected to reach only 11 degrees on Thursday, the coldest day of 2021, as the mercury in some NSW areas dips more than 10 degrees below average for this time of year.

Snow is expected in Orange today before easing on Friday while it will continue to fall in Oberon today and Friday. 

Snow blanketed a backyard in Orange in NSW's Central West. Source: Yahoo News Australia/supplied
Snow blanketed a backyard in Orange in NSW's Central West. Source: Yahoo News Australia/supplied

Snow is also predicted today in Armidale and Glen Innes in the Northern Tablelands, while it will fall in Guyra today and tomorrow. 

In the alpine regions, Perisher reported 50 centimetres of snow in the past 24 hours as the ski resorts prepare for a bumper long weekend.

With unseasonable low temperatures in Queensland as well, the Sunshine State's Granite Belt had also expected a rare dusting of snow.

But it has been a no-show thus far over the peaks around Stanthorpe, with current conditions too dry.

with AAP

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