Weather News

Did tornadoes hit SA on Saturday?

Ben Domensino, Monday July 26, 2021 - 16:31 EST

A powerful cold front battered South Australia on the weekend, leaving a trail of damage and large piles of hail in its wake.

The video below shows a cold front passing over South Australia on Saturday, followed by a huge pool of frigid polar air extending well to the south of the country.

The video also shows multiple swirling regions of cloud to the south of Australia, indicating several distinct areas of low pressure, all associated with a broad and complex low pressure system.

Some of standout impacts from this dynamic system included the strongest winds in several years, heavy rain and lots of small hail in parts of South Australia.

Wind gusts reached as high as 135km/h at Neptune Island around lunchtime on Saturday. This is equivalent to a category two tropical cyclone and the site's strongest wind gust in five years.

The damage caused by these powerful winds caused damage to some infrastructure, including roads and powerlines. By Sunday morning, SA Power Networks had responded to almost 300 power outages across the state.

While the damaging winds were widespread, some areas saw trails of damage that were characteristic of tornado activity. Observed radar data from the weekend also supports the suggestion that small and fast-moving tornadoes may have occurred in South Australia on Saturday.

In addition to the wind, the weekend's injection of polar air also caused large amounts of hail in some southern and central parts of the state. The hail was so thick in some areas it looked like a thin layer of snow on the ground. A few places even had piles of ice still visible on Sunday morning.

While conditions have been much calmer across the state on Monday, another strong front will cross South Australia on Tuesday. This system isn't expected to be as strong as the weekend's front, although damaging winds and showers are likely once again.

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