Weather News

Perth storm damages homes, brings down trees and causes peak-hour traffic chaos

Wednesday February 26, 2020 - 00:54 EDT
ABC licensed image
Lightning strikes flashed across the sky over Perth as the storm made its presence felt. - ABC licensed

A severe thunderstorm has struck Perth and surrounding parts of Western Australia, bringing damaging winds, heavy rainfall and hail and causing chaos in peak-hour traffic.



The storm damaged properties, brought down power lines and ripped up trees, with a number of them falling on top of cars, but there were no reports of serious injuries.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued a severe thunderstorm warning about 4:50pm on Tuesday, saying the bad weather could deliver flash flooding and large hailstones.



The warning covered an area stretching from Joondalup in the north to Rockingham in the south as the storm arrived quickly and with force, moving in over Perth's northern suburbs.

WA's State Emergency Service received more than 150 calls for help from 4:42pm onwards.

Morley Galleria shopping centre was hit when the ceiling gave way and water poured through a hole in the roof.



In the outer suburb of Mindarie, police said a floating car had to be pulled from floodwaters.

Emergency services were also called to Lathlain Primary School in the city's inner south-east to make the area safe following reports of a gas leak and downed powerlines nearby.



The weather warning for Perth was cancelled at 6:05pm, just over an hour after it was issued, as the storm moved south-east of the city and weakened on its journey inland.

A severe weather warning remained in place on Tuesday night for parts of the Central Wheatbelt and Goldfields regions.



Driver rescued after tree crushed car

Uber driver Tanya Shields was driving along Abernathy Road in Lathlain when a falling tree stopped her car in its tracks.



"It was just a big crash onto the car, and the car roof has a window in it, so it made a big noise," she said.

"But I'm lucky; no injuries, just the car damage."

The large tree had ripped bricks and concrete out of the median strip when it was uprooted, and when Ms Shields tried to open her doors, she realised she was trapped.



A passer-by used an axe to free her from the vehicle.

Ms Shields said the car would be written off, but she was grateful she was insured.

Emergency services attended a number of other reports of trees having fallen on cars, with at least one other in Wembley where a person was reportedly trapped, but nobody was seriously hurt.



Several other people suffered minor injuries when their homes were damaged.

Homes without power, schools damaged

Western Power said it was working to restore electricity to more than 18,000 properties.



Peak-hour traffic in Perth bore the brunt of the storm, while train services were delayed due to signalling problems.

There were reports of debris blocking traffic on Great Eastern Highway in Belmont, as well as flooding on the Mitchell Freeway northbound near Warwick Road.

Perth received 14 millimetres of rain in the space of half an hour during the storm.



The Department of Education said Somerly Primary School in Perth's north would be closed on Wednesday while cleaning and repairs were carried out, after various classrooms were inundated with water.

Repairs were being organised at Lathlain Primary School and West Leederville Primary School where trees were brought down, a department spokeswoman said.



Storm moved in rapidly from north: DFES

Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) chief superintendent Stuart Wade described it as a rapid onset of a thunderstorm coming from the north and travelling across the metropolitan area.



The strongest wind gust recorded in Perth was 93 kilometres per hour, in the northern suburb of Ocean Reef.

In the Central Wheatbelt, a wind gust of 126 kph was recorded in Kalannie.

DFES said while the immediate threat of severe thunderstorms had passed in Perth, the situation would continue to be monitored and further warnings would be issued if necessary.

DFES urged people to keep away from flooded drains, rivers, streams and waterways, and be careful of fallen trees, damaged buildings and debris.


- ABC

© ABC 2020

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