It began with an ominous shelf cloud that rolled across the region late afternoon, and ended with a spectacular evening rainbow over Wollongong.
Tuesday’s fast-moving storm – which swept in from the southwest just after 6pm – brought with it damaging winds, heavy rain and frequent lightning strikes.
Despite plunging thousands of northern Illawarra homes into darkness, NSW SES spokesman Joshua McLaren said the storm had “more bark than it did bite”.
The SES responded to 25 jobs across Wollongong and the Shoalhaven, most of which were for fallen trees.
A wind gust of 122km/h was recorded at Nowra at 5.54pm on Tuesday, with nearby Currarong drenched by 33mm of rain in 30 minutes.
Emergency crews from Endeavour Energy worked into the night to restore power to about 11,000 homes and businesses in the Illawarra and parts of Western Sydney.
Strong winds brought trees and branches over power lines and lightning strikes hit two major substations, the company said.
Power was lost to the Bulli Zone Substation after lightning damaged both major cables to the site.
The company had restored power to most areas on Tuesday night, although a handful – around Woodhill, Hartley and Appin – remained in the dark on Wednesday morning.
Mr McLaren urged Illawarra residents to remain on alert, with the Bureau of Meteorology suggesting the weather would be “quite unstable” for the remainder of this week.
“We could see these severe thunderstorms popping up really out of nowhere,” he said.