50-minute super cell wreaks havoc on TamworthBy Catherine Clifford, Tuesday December 4, 2012 - 13:02 EDT
Residents are still mopping up after Monday's wild storm that ripped through Tamworth, bringing down power lines and cutting off electricity to thousands of homes.
The "super cell" dumped hailstones bigger than golf balls across parts of the CBD.
Around 3,500 customers lost power, and wind gusts up to 100km/h were measured at Tamworth Airport.
Meteorologist with weatherzone.com.au, Ben McBurney, says it was a rare, but damaging, weather event.
"So, what we had was called a super cell storm, which is the strongest storm you can get," he said.
"In the south-west of Tamworth there were reports of cricket ball-sized hail and very heavy rainfall," he said.
Mr McBurney says Tamworth Airport and south-western suburbs copped the worst of the storm.
"The east side of town didn't get as much, but the highest wind gusts were very, very strong; strong enough, in fact, to lift roofs off houses, and blow down power lines and trees."
The Nationals' member for Tamworth, Kevin Anderson, says he was called by the SES Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Steve Pearce, after the storm.
Hundreds of emergency calls were processed in and around the Tamworth area.
Kevin Anderson says the damage bill is expected to be significant judging from the calls already logged with the State Emergency Service.
"The Deputy Commissioner, Steve Pearce, informed me that there were about 130 calls in the space of an hour from those residents seeking assistance and that included damage to roofa, damage to cars as well as broken windows from the hail," he said.
Regional General Manager with Essential Energy, Matt Patterson, says thousands of customers lost power.
"We had 3,500 out at the height of the storms and we've been able to restore supply to some customers," he said.
"Some power lines went down in the main part of the town of Tamworth and also poles went down in some of the outlying areas and we sent out a large number of crews to restore supply and patrol lines, too."
In the early evening, a further 1,100 customers lost power in the Quirindi area.
© ABC 2012
More breaking news
A tropical low brewing 600 kilometres north-east of the Queensland coast could make landfall somewhere between Cairns and Townsville early next week as a category three cyclone or higher, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says.
Cyclone preparation comes second nature to many north Queenslanders.
Sydney is having its wettest March in 33 years after yet another showery night.