Electrical storm strikes city

Thursday, 8th November, 2012

Bolts of lightning light up the sky in this shot, looking west down Chapple Street. PICTURE: Jamie Billing Bolts of lightning light up the sky in this shot, looking west down Chapple Street. PICTURE: Jamie Billing

By Kurtis J Eichler

Adelaide copped it on Monday and yesterday morning it was Broken Hill's turn.

A luminous, roaring spectacle of thunder and lightning dumped 32mm of rain on the city, plunged almost half of the city into darkness and closed roads.

Bolts of lightning first lit up the night sky about 1am and didn't stop until 5:30am.

The Bureau of Meteorology registered 2466 lightning strikes here during the storm.

More than 1000 were of the inter-cloud type and 168 were overhead.

The Bureau's Patton Street weather recorder, Phillip Mew, said it was one of the longest storms in recent memory.

"Unfortunately, it was a lot of heavy rain," Mr Mew said.

"It would be good for a lot of the graziers but because it rained so hard, it would have all dried out by now (in BH)."

The city's last big thunderstorm was in March, just a day before the St Pat's races when more than 80mm fell.

Mr Mew said yesterday's storm was connected to what Adelaide experienced earlier in the week.

A frontal system from the south-west and a north-westerly trough coming down from central Australia met to create the spectacular storm, he said.

"It dropped a lot of heat over this area which increased the instability of the cloud."

Most of the lightning and thunder was "instantaneous," he said. "You get your lightning and then you get your thunder within a second of the lightning flash."

Hail stones between 5mm and 10mm thick also pelted down between 1:10 and 1:20am but Mr Mew said it was soft and melted quickly.

About 8000 homes in the city's West and North lost power between 3:15am and 4:45am in the storm but the SES got just one call to a damaged roof in Oxide Street.

The BH Hospital was also mopping up yesterday after some leaks but services were not disrupted by them, a spokesman said.

Outlying areas had heavier rain, with some places recording almost 50mm in their rain gauges.

Glen Idol Station's Robert Gibson recorded 47mm at his property, 47km east of the city, between 1:30am and 9am. He said the drenching was much needed.

"We had plenty of dry food but green feed would be better," he said.

The storm also closed the Mutawintji and the Tibooburra roads yesterday.

Photographer Jamie Billings sat up waiting for the first storm cells to pass through.

"It was pretty big and I would have liked to have been a bit closer," Mr Billings said.

Today's forecast is for a top of 25C.