15 January 2024

Crews still cleaning up after all hell breaks loose in Saturday's 'very dangerous thunderstorm'

| James Coleman
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Flooded stormwater channel after storm on 13 January 2024. Photo: Shelby Powell.

A gas pipe burst and caught fire in Kaleen, a sinkhole opened up in Mawson, a car ended up on its roof on Parkes Way, almost all channels disappeared from TVs in Tuggeranong and emergency services received more than 200 calls for help.

It seems nature suffered a catastrophic ‘Error 404’ on Saturday afternoon.

The Bureau of Meteorology published a series of thunderstorm warnings over the course of the day, citing “damaging winds”, “heavy rainfall” and “flash flooding”.

“A VERY DANGEROUS THUNDERSTORM near Queanbeyan, South Canberra, and Hume,” the BOM posted to its X (formerly Twitter) account at 5:13 pm on 13 January.

“Intense rainfall that may lead to dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding is a risk as this storm moves north.”

They weren’t wrong. The storm arrived around 3:30 pm and dumped 69 millimetres of rain on Canberra over just two hours.

Social media was full of images and videos of bursting stormwater channels, roads and grass spaces completely underwater, and water lapping at back steps and doors.

The ACT’s emergency services received more than 212 calls for help, largely related to roof and property damage due to flooding or downed trees and powerlines. Sunday followed with more reports of flooding after a second, albeit less severe, wave came through.

At about 4:30 pm, a white Toyota Yaris sedan ended up on its roof in one of the lanes of Parkes Way near Black Mountain Peninsula and a nearby tree was down as well. The car’s occupants were assessed by paramedics and found to have non-life-threatening injuries, and the road opened soon afterwards.

Around the same time, ACT Fire and Rescue was called to Tweed Place in Kaleen after lightning struck an underground gas pipe and transformed it into a sort of Bunsen burner. It was extinguished by 5:30 pm.

sinkhole in Mawson

Sinkhole on Beasley Street, Mawson. Photo: Tegan Martin.

A portion of Beasley Street next to the Mawson playing fields was set off with high-vis witches hats after a sinkhole opened up in the tarmac. Motorists were advised to find alternative routes until repair crews could arrive the following day.

Another lightning strike took out the Tuggeranong Hill Telecommunications Tower, blacking out most free-to-air channels in Tuggeranong.

EvoEnergy crews were dispatched to the scene the following day to assess the damage.

“We know disruption to your broadcasting services is inconvenient – thanks for your patience,” it posted to social media.

The site is operated by BAI Communications (formerly Broadcast Australia) and one of their technicians also had to be called in to investigate a “further fault”. It’s understood most channels are back online now.

Crews from the ACT State Emergency Service (SES), ACT Rural Fire Service (RFS), ACT Fire and Rescue and Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) are continuing to clean up the rest of Saturday’s mess.

If you need help during a flood or storm, phone the ACT SES on 132 500. In a life-threatening emergency, call Triple-Zero (000).

Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

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