Winds gusting close to 100km/h wreaked havoc across the Illawarra on Sunday, toppling trees, bringing down power lines and ripping the roof off a building.
The persistently-vigorous west to northwesterly winds peaked in the middle of the day and left a path of destruction in their wake.
In Bulli, a large section of the roof at the suburb’s PCYC was torn off in the wild weather, leaving twisted metal and pieces of insulation strewn across the surrounding area.
At Figtree, a gum tree came down onto power lines and parked cars on Arrow Avenue early afternoon. No one was injured, despite most of the tree’s branches reportedly landing on a car as it drove down the street.
The incidents came around the time a west-northwesterly wind gust of 95km/h was recorded at Bellambi at 12.17pm. Ten minutes later, an 82km/h gust was registered at Albion Park.
The Wollongong City SES unit had received more than 10 requests for assistance, mostly for trees or branches down, by about 10am on Sunday. That number had risen to more than 30 by 12.45pm and reached 50 by late afternoon. Seven Wollongong SES teams were still working to complete 12 outstanding jobs as of 4.20pm.
An increase in calls was expected as people returned home on Sunday night.
Elsewhere, some South Coast Line services were delayed due to power supply issues. A fallen tree blocked the tracks at Austinmer early afternoon, while a downed tree branch had to be removed from overhead wiring at Wombarra.
The situation wasn’t much better on the roads, with fallen trees affecting traffic on a number of major roads, including the Illawarra Highway on Macquarie Pass, the M1 Princes Motorway at Helensburgh and Cataract and Lawrence Hargrave Drive at Coalcliff.
The strong winds saw Wollongong City Council’s Waste and Resource Recovery Park close “in the interest of public safety”. Severe turbulence forced the cancellation of aerial shark patrols along the Wollongong coast.
The vigorous winds were generated by a series of low pressure troughs crossing southeastern Australia. A severe weather warning for damaging winds was issued for the South Coast and inland Illawarra on Sunday. However, coastal areas of the region were not included.
As it happened: