Trees fall as wild winds wreak havoc

Gale force winds and thunderstorms accompanied by hail caused havoc in parts of the Blue Mountains last Thursday, bringing down trees and power lines.

Blue Mountains SES local controller John Hughes said it was a busy night for the volunteers, who responded to 35 calls for assistance, mainly in the Mid and Lower Mountains.

“The high winds did quite a bit of damage to some properties, but nothing too significant,” Mr Hughes said.

“Most calls were from Springwood, Faulconbridge and Winmalee that afternoon but we had a few calls later into Thursday evening from Hazelbrook to Bullaburra.

“Fallen trees and trees threatening to fall were the main things.

“We’d completed most of the jobs by Friday morning but had about half a dozen to finish off on the weekend.”

At 3pm on Thursday Winmalee Rural Fire Service brigade sent three crews to Kristine Street near Hawkesbury Road to clear a large fallen tree and make the area safe.

A large tree branch fell directly onto a bench in the middle of Springwood’s town square in the late afternoon, but luckily nobody was sitting there at the time.

Blue Mountains Police officers did point duties from 6pm at the busy traffic light intersection of the highway and Mann Street in Glenbrook, where there was a power outage affecting a large area of the town.

A fallen tree branch near the railway corridor in Faulconbridge caused power failures on the Blue Mountains train line late in the evening and buses replaced trains between Katoomba and Penrith until the early hours of Friday morning.

Endeavour Energy restored power to several thousand homes across the Blue Mountains by Thursday evening, but it took several more hours to restore power to 1800 properties, mainly in Glenbrook and Katoomba.

Fire and Rescue NSW crews completed 65 jobs in Sydney’s greater west and Blue Mountains, mainly dealing with debris on roads, fallen trees and power lines.

A large cold front caused the vigorous westerly to southwesterly winds to sweep across the central ranges, with gusts reaching up to 106km/h in Richmond, 76km/h in Springwood and 81km/h in Katoomba.

Thunderstorms brought short bursts of heavy rain across the district and hail in the Upper Mountains, while sleet was reported in Lithgow and Oberon and light snow in Orange and Mudgee.

Mt Victoria’s Matt Alchin commented on the Gazette’s Facebook site “we had hail, then what looked a lot like snow, strong winds, more hail, sunshine, and torrential rain in bursts . . . what a day!”

The SES recommends simple things residents can do around the house to prepare for the summer storm season including:

n secure or put away any loose items that could blow around in strong winds in your backyard or on your balcony;

n trim dangerous tree branches;

n make sure your gutters are clean and clear; and

n move vehicles under cover or away from trees 

For more tips, visit www.stormsafe.com.au.

For help during floods and storms, call the SES assistance hotline on 132-500.

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