Power still out for thousands after violent thunderstorm hits SA

Wild winds and thousands of lightning strikes left about 37,000 homes across metropolitan Adelaide without power overnight, crews are mopping up today.

Oct 03, 2023, updated Oct 06, 2023
Severe weather and lightning strikes are expected over the next few days. Photo: Matt Orr

Severe weather and lightning strikes are expected over the next few days. Photo: Matt Orr

Fallen tree limbs and lightning strikes pulled down powerlines and affected vital infrastructure with SA Power Networks spokesman Paul Roberts saying the entire Adelaide metropolitan region was affected.

“It was really due to the front that came through between 8pm and 11pm last night, during that period we had about 44,000 lightning strikes recorded by Weatherzone,” Roberts said, adding that crews were working through the night with a second storm coming through about 1.30am.

“There were also wind gusts recorded up to 106km per hour at Noarlunga.”

About 17,000 homes were now reconnected but Roberts said the large amount of incidents meant it could be later today or tomorrow before power is returned to all customers.

The Woodville and Athol Park region in Adelaide was particularly affected with more than 4000 homes without power from multiple incidents, mainly from lightning strikes on infrastructure or trees and limbs falling on power lines.

“This has been a big event, not as large as last November when about 160,000 homes were impacted, but that was a really incredible event, the biggest we’ve ever had in SA since the statewide blackout,” Roberts said.

Crews were stood down during the day in readiness for last night’s forecast stormy weather and were ready to deal with calls that came through soon after the storm swept through the city.

Fresh crews came online this morning as SA Power Networks and the State Emergency Service (SES) respond to calls.

Other areas badly affected include about 2900 homes without power in Hackham and Onkaparinga Hills, about 2200 homes in the Colonel Light Gardens, Cumberland Park and Daw Park area and about 1200 around McLaren Vale.

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Roberts warned people to stay at least 10m from any downed powerlines for their own safety.

A RSPCA spokeswoman said anxious pets across the state kept many owners awake overnight, dogs in particular can be affected by stormy weather.

Dogs reportedly can sense the drop in barometric pressure building up to a storm and this linked with darker skies, wind, lightning and thunder, makes them anxious.

SES state duty officer Ian Bonython said the city’s southern and western suburbs were most affected with calls for emergency assistance starting at about 5.30pm yesterday when the weather front first hit Port Augusta and Whyalla.

“As it moved through Port Augusta and Whyalla we received about 12 calls, then from Kapunda and Yorke Peninsula about another dozen calls, from 8.30pm we have had 280 more calls for assistance,” Bonython said.

“The majority of calls have been about trees or branches across roads, powerlines, in people’s yards, and some branches have landed on structures, some houses and sheds have been damaged in the western and southern suburbs of Adelaide.”

There are now seven crews responding to calls with more expected to come online during the day.

Bonython said “rare” unpredictable weather fronts particularly occurred during Spring and Autumn months across the state.

An SMS mobile phone message system will keep people updated on how long it will take for power to be back online, the SA Power Networks website also has information or calls can be made to 131366.

The SES can be contacted on 132500 or if there is an emergency call 000.

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