Sydney's Tornadic Supercell Wrap Up

16 Dec 2015 0

Kurnell Tornado!

Posted by Andrew McGregor on Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Were you in Sydney and surroundings today? You might have noticed there was some crazy wind, giant hailstones and torrential rain about...

Although there was no effect on swell there was enough activity on land to keep everyone occupied. Police advised people to leave work early and the riot squad was reportedly called in to help deal with resident distress as 200km/hour winds tore through the city.

Coastalwatch forecaster Matt McKay commented on the supercell's movement throughout the morning. 

For the last few days, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has been forecasting the possibility of severe storms across the Sydney region. Today these storms came to fruition. At around 8am EST, convective thunderstorms were visible on radar off the coast of Kiama. As these storms migrated northwards along the coast, they began merging and intensifying.

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By 9am, a detailed severe thunderstorm warning was issued by the BOM for the Wollongong and surrounding areas, indicating that this storm had become super cellular. What does this mean? Supercell thunderstorms are the most destructive types of storms, often containing large hail, strong winds and heavy rainfall; they also show signs of rotation (a necessary component for tornado formation).

At 10:09 am, the Bureau updated their forecast to include the Sutherland Shire and the Eastern Suburbs. Twenty minutes later, and things kicked into gear. A ‘hook echo’ became evident on radar, depicting that this thunderstorm held great potential for dropping a tornado. This was indeed the case. A record breaking wind gust of 213km/h was reported at Kurnell at 10:33am, with general reports of a tornado in the area. As time passed, and the damage became evident; authorities were able to confirm that a tornado had touched down. Multiple houses were left without roofs whilst trees and powerlines were downed. Flash flooding and large hail also caused great concern in the area, with a deluge of rain falling in a short amount of time (unfortunately the Kurnell weather station was not recording rainfall; so the exact amount is unknown).

To compound the damage, Kurnell was hit by another supercell at around 1pm, dumping more rain and generating strong winds (111km/h). Since this second system passed through the Kurnell, the area has now been declared a ‘natural disaster zone’ meaning that the people affected can access personal financial assistance.

Houses shredded in Kurnell, Photo by AAP / Westpac Rescue Helicopter

Houses shredded in Kurnell, Photo by AAP / Westpac Rescue Helicopter

Tags: topnews , weather , sydney , storm , video (create Alert from these tags)

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