Wild weather ‘trifecta’ triggers bushfire and power cut warning

SA Power Networks says catastrophic fire conditions, thunderstorms and high winds forecast for tomorrow threaten the state’s electricity supply.

Dec 07, 2023, updated Dec 07, 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

Catastrophic bushfire conditions are currently forecast by the SA Country Fire Service for eastern Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, Mid North, Flinders and the Riverland, while extreme conditions are forecast in the Mt Lofty Ranges and Murraylands.

Weather forecasts are for thunderstorms, lightning strikes and wind gusts up to 100kmph, with Weatherzone saying “storms bring a chance of heavy rainfall and destructive winds and possible tornados”.

The Country Fire Service, State Emergency Service and the Bureau of Meteorology are holding a press conference about the “significant weather” this afternoon.

“This trifecta of weather conditions is the worst combination possible in terms of the potential for causing outages,” SA Power Networks spokesman Paul Roberts said a short time ago.

“We will be juggling our response between setting the network up to minimise the risk of fire starts and managing outage risk from storm impacts.

“In catastrophic fire conditions, equipment is set to disconnect supply in response to a fault to minimise a potential fire start.”

Roberts said that during storms, SA Power Networks set the network equipment to make several attempts to reconnect power, as many faults cleared themselves allowing supply to be reconnected safely.

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But tomorrow’s forecast conditions had the potential to create multiple outages in regional areas.

“This means there will be the potential for multiple outages in regional areas for example, as a lightning strike will cause an outage when the network is in bushfire setting, whereas the potential for that outcome is reduced when the network is in storm settings,” he said.

“Those outages may also be extended in regional and remote areas if crews are stretched by managing safety in severe conditions and responding to the trifecta of weather conditions.”

Additional resources including contractors, asset inspectors and volunteer wire watchers were being mobilised to support local crews in responding to the conditions, and non-critical planned work had been cancelled to free up additional crews.

Roberts said members of the public should keep at least 10 metres clear of downed powerlines and report them to SA Power Networks on 13 13 66.

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