Lonely Planet Writer

Wild storms and a tornado cause havoc in Sydney

Wild storms and a tornado caused havoc throughout Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.

Dramtic storm in Sydney.
Dramtic storm in Sydney. Image by @EduRidden on Twitter

Record winds of up to 213km were recorded as the storm lashed Sydney’s southern coast, severely damaging at least 25 homes and causing the roof of a shopping centre to collapse. The storm hit at about 10.30am (AEST), surprising residents and emergency responders with its ferocity. Forecaster with the Bureau of Meteorology Michael Logan told the ABC the winds were some of the fastest recorded in Australia. “It is what’s called a super cell thunderstorm and they’re one of the most dangerous thunderstorms we get,” he explained.

Hailstones the size of an adult’s fist fell from the sky, while a tornado tore through the southern Sydney suburb of Kurnell. Astonishingly, no one was seriously hurt, though there is considerable destruction to property. Kurnell resident Beverley Bultitude described the moment the tornado hit: “Outside, it was as black as anything. All of a sudden there was a bit of wind and then it hit and when it hit, it hit hard. Everything was just spinning, spinning around … it was like shrapnel, that’s the only way I could describe it.”

In Sydney’s east, the roof of a shopping centre partially collapsed, forcing shoppers to evacuate. While at the airport, chaos reigned as flights were grounded, causing significant delays. Severe traffic congestion into the airport saw numerous travellers abandon their cars on the side of the road and walk 1km into the airport. State Emergency Services are now focused on cleaning up the mess, with over 50 teams working through the night to secure public spaces and personal property.