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Thousands of lightning strikes and winds over 100km/h: A week in South Australia

Thomas Hough, Saturday July 17, 2021 - 14:01 EST

It's been a wild few days for South Australia as a complex low with multiple troughs and a powerful cold front slowly made its way east from Tuesday.

Whilst both severe thunderstorms and powerful winds impacted the state, the peak of each did so at different times during this period. Thunderstorm activity peaked first, on Wednesday 14th, with winds peaking late on Friday 16th and early Saturday 17th.

In the 24 hours from midnight on Wednesday, there were just over 19,900 lightning strikes within 300km of Adelaide, with around 2000 of these ground strikes. Severe thunderstorms warnings were issued for the Yorke Peninsula, Adelaide, and parts of the Mount Lofty Ranges, with detailed warnings cancelled around 5.20pm CST.

Storms also featured over the following couple of days however no severe thunderstorm warnings were issued and there was significantly less lightning. In the 24 hours from midnight on Thursday there were just under 3040 strikes within 300km of Adelaide, with this figure dropping to 440 in the following 24 hours.

Winds began to strengthen during Thursday, with a severe weather warning issued for nearly all districts, before being extended to parts of all districts on Friday ahead of the peak gusts in the evening and early Saturday.

Neptune Island recorded the strongest wind gust at 118.5kmh just before 8pm on Friday, with the second strongest wind gusts over the state also over Neptune Island at 114.8km/h (strongest in nearly 2 years) just before 1am on Saturday. Minlaton Airport, Ceduna and Cape Borda all also recorded gusts over 100km/h, at 109.3km/h, 109.3km/h and 101.9km/h respectively, with Cape Borda’s gusts the strongest there in nearly 2.5 years.

A number of locations also recorded winds gusts exceeding 90km/h, including Cape Willoughby (96.3km/h), Adelaide Airport (94.5km/h) and Edinburgh RAAF (92.6km/h).

Winds will continue to ease today, giving the state a brief reprieve ahead of the next frontal system due to arrive later on Monday.

More breaking news

Sydney Morning Herald
ABC News

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