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Severe thunderstorms roll over NSW on Friday evening

Scott Morries, Saturday February 9, 2019 - 13:03 EDT

A slow-moving, moisture-laden trough generated many severe thunderstorms across a large swathe of NSW on Friday evening.

The Sydney basin saw a cluster of severe thunderstorms around peak hour, which produced heavy rainfall and damaging winds across the region. The Bureau of Meteorology issued a number of Severe Thunderstorm Warnings during the event. The thunderstorms started in the late afternoon and continued into the evening, before finally easing at around 8:30pm.

To 9am this morning, some places had received their heaviest rainfall in months. During the event, Canterbury received 38.0mm of rain, its heaviest since October last year and Olympic Park had 53.0mm, its heaviest in four months. The total rainfalls were not the only astounding statistics, as Holsworthy received 22mm of rain in 10 minutes while Campbelltown had 10mm in 10 minutes.

Heavy rainfall and flooding were not the only dangers produced by the thunderstorms. Wind gusts of over 80km/h were also recorded. At 2:20pm, West Wyalong had an 83km/h wind gust. At 3:30pm, Forbes recorded an 87km/h gust while a bit later on at 6:00pm, Moss Vale had an 85km/h gust.

Lightning strikes were also a spectacular yet dangerous feature of the thunderstorms. Between 3pm and 9pm, 4954 cloud to ground strikes were recorded within a 50km radius of Sydney's Observatory Hill. However, when the radius was reduced to within 4km of Observatory Hill, only 10 cloud to ground strikes were recorded, compared to 196 cloud to cloud strikes.

Currently, the trough that caused these thunderstorms is still moving over the state, and there is the possibility of another brief thunderstorm event this afternoon. On Sunday, a cool change will bring cooler weather but thunderstorms are no longer expected, as the trough will have shifted north.

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