Thousands of Sydney homes were left without power on February 9th after severe storms hit Australia's largest city, causing transport hold-ups, inundating vehicles with floodwater and delaying a national football match. AFP reported that heavy rains and lightning storms lashed parts of Sydney late on February 8th, with close to 60 millimetres (nearly two and a half inches) of rain falling in some areas.
In Sydney's west, which experienced some flash flooding, one suburb saw nearly 42 millimetres fall in a short downpour lasting just 30 minutes. Images of cars submerged in floodwaters on main roads, broken traffic lights and fallen trees circulated on social media. Energy companies reported that more than 40,000 customers were affected by power outages at the peak of the storm overnight, with more than 5,000 still without power early on February 9th.
Byron Doyle, from the New South Wales Bureau of meteorology, said, "It was a slow-moving storm with that warm humid air moving along the coast... that allowed for that increase of moisture." A New South Wales state emergency services spokesperson stated that emergency services fielded over 1,000 requests for assistance, including nine flood rescues in the Sydney area and the rescues were "all for vehicles in flood water."
Flights were delayed at Sydney's airport, while the storm caused havoc on some of the city's train lines. The start of a national Australian rules football women's match was delayed twice, pushed back 45 minutes as heavy rain and lightning pummelled the stadium.
The Sydney storm comes as recovery efforts continue in Australia's flood-ravaged north-eastern state of Queensland, which over the past week has seen record-breaking rainfall, forcing hundreds of evacuations and thousands of requests for help.
Scientists said high temperatures are not unusual in the Australian summer but climate change has pushed up land and sea temperatures and led to more extremely hot days and severe fire seasons.