4 January 2022

Clean up continues after severe thunderstorms, with more predicted to come

| Karyn Starmer
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Fallen tree across road in Hawker

A fallen tree across a road in Hawker at the height of the thunderstorm on the night of Monday, 3 January. Photo: Maree Winmill.

About 3000 Canberra households remain without power after severe thunderstorms lashed Canberra’s northern suburbs on the evening of Monday, 3 January.

The suburbs around Belconnen and Gungahlin experienced the most significant damage, with trees falling on homes, damaged power lines, localised flooding and water damage. There have also been reports of damage to crops further north in the Murrumbateman area.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), more thunderstorms are expected later in the week.

Winds peaked at Canberra Airport at 46km at around 5 pm on Monday. BOM said there were reports of two-centimetre of hail in some areas.

A BOM spokesperson said the thunderstorm activity is a result of a deepening of an inland trough sitting in the area, with a high pressure system sitting in the Tasman Sea feeding air into the trough.

The trough is expected to stay stationary.

After a relatively calm day today (4 January), thunderstorm activity is set to pick up tomorrow and continue for the rest of the week.

“This could result in more severe thunderstorms in the Canberra region in the coming days,” said the spokesperson.

“It is important that people monitor the situation and keep an eye on the [BOM] app as there are a few wet and stormy days ahead.”

Wet conditions are expected to hang around in the ACT region until next week.

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Meanwhile, Evoenergy crews have restored power to 15,000 customers, while 3000 customers are currently without power.

Areas impacted include Belconnen, Flynn, Fraser, Gungahlin, Hall, Nicholls, Spring Range, Sutton, Flynn, Fraser, Melba, Spence, Macgregor, Holt, Latham, Florey, Page, Scullin, Weetangera, Hawker, Aranda, Bruce, Cook, Macquarie and O’Connor.

An Evoenergy spokesperson said crews are continuing to work through the storm damage. The energy provider has cancelled all other work for Tuesday, 4 January, with crews focusing on restoring outages for the day.

“Restoration times are currently unknown and we will continue to provide updates on Facebook and Twitter,” said the spokesperson.

“We know this is incredibly inconvenient, but it is absolutely due to the severity of the damage from the storm.

“Repairs will take time as crews make [areas] safe, assess the damage and undertake critical repairs, and we ask for your patience.”

Evoenergy received more than 2000 calls to its faults and emergency contact centre between 5 pm and 11 pm on Monday, 3 January.

“We thank everyone in the community who have been our eyes and ears since the storm, reporting damage online and over the phone,” said the spokesperson.

“If people see network damage that has not yet been reported, call us on 13 10 93.

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“We remind the community to please stay at least eight meters away from fallen or low hanging powerlines and do not come into contact with items nearby such as Colorbond fences or vehicles which could become charged with electricity.”

The ACT State Emergency Service received 436 requests for assistance following the thunderstorm.

Thirty-five crews from the ACT State Emergency Service, ACT Fire & Rescue, ACT Rural Fire Service, and Transport Canberra and City Services have contributed to the storm response so far.

Crews worked through the night to attend to priority incidents, and have completed 211 jobs, with 225 requests still outstanding this afternoon.

In a statement, the ACT State Emergency Service thanked the community for their patience as crews work through the high volume of calls.

Additional staff and volunteers joined operations today. The clean up is expected to extend across the next couple of days, with the highest priority incidents being attended to first.

The ACT Emergency Services Agency said there has been no reports of injuries from the thunderstorm.

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