Tens of thousands of people in the Australian state of South Australia (SA) have been left without elec-tricity after a severe thunderstorm hit the state.
SA recorded more than 423,000 lightning strikes on Saturday as a storm system brought winds exceeding 100 km per hour and flash flooding.
As of Sunday morning, there were about 76,000 SA Power customers without electricity, with some areas advised they will have to wait until Monday until service is restored.
The state emergency service (SES) received more than 1,000 calls for assistance between Saturday and Sunday morning.
A “mini cyclone” was reported to have hit the Adelaide Hills, knocking down trees and damaging houses.
Resident Kristen Stevens, 33, said she returned home to find a 30-meter-tall tree had fallen on her neighbour’s car. “I was pretty shocked – I didn’t think it was going to be anywhere near as bad as it is,” she told News Corp Australia.
“The neighbour’s car is almost cut in half. I’ve never seen a storm like it, it’s definitely the worst storm I’ve experienced,” she said.
The hills and Adelaide’s southern suburbs were hit hardest by the storm, which forced the cancella-tion of a music festival and delays to sports events.
In the town of Middleton on SA’s south coast flash flooding inundated businesses and homes after the creek burst its banks at approximately 5:00 p.m. local time.
The weather was expected to ease on Sunday, with Adelaide, capital city of SA, forecast to receive about 10 mm of rain.
SA Power Networks’s Paul Roberts said people should plan for an extended power outage and con-sider staying with family or friends where necessary.
“We won’t be able to provide accurate estimates of power restoration times until crews get to the site and are able to make an assessment of the cause and the work needed to restore power,” he said.
Mr Roberts said rebuilding and repairing the network and restoring power would “continue into Tuesday and possibly beyond”.
“This is the largest outage event we have had since the statewide blackout in 2016,” he said.
Authorities have encouraged South Australians to turn off their solar panels “as a last resort” to help stabilise the energy grid.
The Australian Electricity Market Operator (AEMO) said South Australia had been disconnected from the National Electricity Market due to a fallen transmission tower.
It said the transmission network “remains in a secure operating state”. Business owners have been assessing the damage, but many have been hampered by the lack of power.
Alan Pan, a supermarket owner in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, said he would have to throw out most of the dairy and meat products at his store due to the power outage.
Three people in high-vis clothes on the ground and one on the roof of a property next to a fallen tree
Crews repair damage to a property at Felixstow in Adelaide’s north-east.(ABC News: Rebecca Brice) “Everything needs to be chucked out,” he said.
“We will have staff waiting outside the shop this morning, waiting for it to be opened and unfortu-nately I have to send everyone home.”
State Duty Officer Robert Charlton said the State Emergency Service (SES) had been called out to about 1,000 jobs in 24 hours.
Mr Charlton said the majority of work involved fallen trees and power lines, and volunteers hoped to clear the majority of storm damage by the end of Sunday. He said the Adelaide Hills and southern suburbs were the hardest hit by the storms.—AP