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Wild weather: one dead, more than 130,000 homes without power, child hit by tree

Thursday was the warmest day in Melbourne since May 7, before the weather took a drastic turn late in the afternoon as a cold front moved east across the city.

The strongest gust in the state was 156km/h, clocked at Hogan Island in the Bass Strait, followed by 144km/h at Wilsons Promontory, 124km/h at Mount Gellibrand and 122km/h at Yanakie in South Gippsland.

Closer to the city, Port Phillip Bay clocked 115km/h per hour, while St Kilda Harbour recorded 111km/h winds.

By 8.30pm the State Emergency Service has fielded more than 1400 calls for help – a large majority of them due to downed trees.

Victoria Police sent out social message posts across the state telling people not to to drive on Thursday night “unless it’s absolutely necessary”. Only permitted workers are legally allowed out after 8pm within Melbourne’s metropolitan area during stage four coronavirus lockdown.

“If the curfew isn’t incentive enough to stay home, please consider your own safety as well as the safety of emergency services workers who are currently dealing with the damage caused by this evening’s severe weather,” it read.

Power company AusNet, which services the east of the state, recorded more than 83,000 outages at 6.30pm.

Meanwhile, United Energy, which provides electricity to Melbourne’s inner south-east and the Mornington Peninsula had more than 40,000 properties without power.

West of Melbourne, Powercor and CitiPower have more than 14,000 customers affected.

The wild weather brought a tree down on the corner of Spencer and Hawke streets in Melbourne's north.

The wild weather brought a tree down on the corner of Spencer and Hawke streets in Melbourne’s north.

The State Emergency Service responded to 403 calls for assistance between 7.30pm and 8.30pm alone – with 338 of those calls relating to trees down, a spokesman said.

Some of the worst-affected areas were Lilydale, Maroondah, Hastings, Bellarine and Torquay.

What Melbourne's east looked like on the VicEmergency app just before 10pm on Thursday night.

What Melbourne’s east looked like on the VicEmergency app just before 10pm on Thursday night.Credit:VicEmergency

AusNet spokesman Steve Brown said crews were out trying to restore power as soon as possible.

“There is a wide range of outages so it could be a long night for some people I’m afraid,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.

Emma Tyner from United Energy said the company was dealing with about 80 faults across the network and customers would be updated via text.

“Our biggest fault is around that Ringwood to Box Hill area, we’ve got about 24,000 customers off,” she told the ABC.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Tim Bolden said Melbourne’s CBD had seen the worst of the gusts by 6.30pm, but the “very vigorous cold front” was moving east.

“This front is continuing east. What Melbourne has just seen will move through to parts of the Alps, Gippsland and the Gippsland coast,” he said.

Talkback radio callers reported trees and powerlines down from North Melbourne to Knox, while an entire roof came off a home in West Melbourne and landed on adjacent buildings, according to Fire Services Victoria.

An FSV spokeswoman said the scene was declared safe within half an hour and 16 firefighters secured the remaining sections of the house roof.

Up to 60 sets of traffic lights were out across Melbourne due to the storm, according to the Victorian Department of Transport.

A spokesperson said the Burwood Highway, Maroondah Highway, and Canterbury, Springvale, Stud,
Blackburn, Warrandyte and High Street roads in the city’s east are without traffic lights.

The wild weather caused trees to fall across several train lines. Services were suspended on the Belgrave, Cranbourne, Frankston, Glen Waverley, Hurstbridge, Pakenham and Sandringham lines as crews worked to clear debris.

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