Almost 50,000 Victorian homes and businesses are without power and some will remain in the dark overnight as wild thunderstorms sweep across the state.
A severe thunderstorm warning was issued on Tuesday afternoon for Bendigo, Maryborough, Castlemaine, Kyneton, Ballarat, Bellarine Peninsula and greater Melbourne.
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There have been reports of large hail around Bendigo, as well as rainfall totals of 20mm in 30 minutes at Eversley, 30mm in 30 minutes at Mount Boninyong and 29mm in 60 minutes at Yandoit.
A wind gust of 104km/h was also recorded in Wangaratta, near the Victorian-NSW border.
A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for parts of Victoria including greater Melbourne. Credit: AAP
Thunderstorm cells are moving southeast and could lead to flash flooding over the next several hours.
“Park your car undercover and away from trees,” the Bureau of Meteorology said.
“Stay inside if conditions outside appear dangerous.”
In an update, BOM confirmed severe thunderstorms have eased in the Melbourne warning area but could redevelop.
About 24,000 power customers across central and western Victoria are off the grid after the storms brought down trees and damaged the network.
Powercor, which supplies power to 1.2 million Victorian homes and businesses, said a significant amount of lightning had also impacted the grid and its crews were working to fix more than 200 faults.
“Ballarat and surrounding communities are the hardest hit areas, with around 13,000 customers without power,” a Powercor spokesman said in a statement.
“Other areas impacted include Castlemaine, Bendigo, Hamilton, Ararat, Horsham and Maryborough, as well as some of the western suburbs of Melbourne.
“Our crews will continue to work to have power restored throughout the afternoon and evening, but given the volume of faults and the damage sustained, some customers will be without power overnight.”
More than 22,500 customers with Ausnet, which supplies power to all of the state’s east and southeast as well as much of the north, were also without power as of Tuesday afternoon.
Most of the 26 unplanned outages across its network were in central and northeast Victoria.
As well, more than 1000 power customers to Melbourne’s west and northwest were experiencing outages.
Public transport chaos
Buses have replaced trains along the Craigieburn line from Broadmeadows to Craigieburn because of a lightning strike affecting equipment.
Metro Trains warned commuters to expect delays while noting trains were operating as normal from Flinders St to Broadmeadows.
Meteorologist Miriam Bradbury said the risk of severe thunderstorms would persist into Wednesday but would contract into eastern Victoria and southeast NSW.
“As we go towards Thursday, the heavier rainfall is going to move up the NSW coast with the risk of storms continuing,” she said.
“However, inland areas will see much patchier falls than they’re expecting today.”