Australia Battered By Tornados, High Wind And Hail

A tornado has left a trail of destruction in southern Sydney with record wind speeds up to 213km/h, leaving several people with minor injuries and many homes and businesses without roofs.

The freak storm hit Kurnell in city’s south just after 10.30am on Wednesday and moved north, while two other storm cells have battered the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury/Central Coast regions.

NSW SES deputy commissioner Greg Newton told 7 News the SES had received around 500 calls for assistance, mainly from the areas of Kurnell, Maroubra, Botany and Bondi Junction.

He noted that a large number of homes and businesses were damaged across these areas, particularly in Kurnell which has been declared a disaster zone.

A number of Kurnell residents were trapped inside their homes, as winds of up to 213km/h ripped up roofs, trees and power lines, as they travelled north up to Bondi Beach.

Kurnell’s Bridges St was particularly hard hit with a number of homes suffering significant damage, a Fire & Rescue spokeswoman told AAP.

While emergency services responded to reports of people trapped at various premises in the area, no-one was seriously injured during the storm.

By 1pm thunderstorms had hit Sydney’s eastern suburbs and Westfield Bondi Junction had to be evacuated due to a partial roof collapse.

Shoppers were sent into the pouring rain after a loud bang followed by part of the roof crashing to the floor outside the Guzman y Gomes restaurant.

One shopper was hit by debris and was treated by paramedics at the scene for minor injuries, a Westfield spokeswoman told AAP.

An evacuation centre for Kurnell residents has been set up at the Cronulla Leagues Club on Captain Cook Drive, in the Sutherland Shire.

Around 180 students from Kurnell Public School and a number of children from a day care centre were taken to the evacuation centre, where they were met by their parents.

In today’s ‪#‎SydneyStorm‬, Kurnell, only across the bay from the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter base has been hardest hit, it was announced on Facebook.
The most dangerous storm system in NSW history has left many Kurnell residents reeling. Photo: Facebook

Power was cut to 800 homes and businesses on the peninsula, with extensive damage done to the high and low voltage networks.

It is expected these services may not be able to be restored until Thursday.

Public Order and Riot Squad officers had to assist local police at Kurnell during the storm. Additional police resources have been deployed to patrol the Kurnell area.

While no-one was seriously injured during the wild weather, a number of people have been taken to Sutherland Hospital with minor injuries.

A 40-year-old man in Kurnell suffered head injuries after reports of storm damage to a building, a 38-year-old man was treated for shock and another patient was treated for an unspecified condition.

A 75-year-old woman received cuts to her leg, while a man was struck by debris and an elderly man was treated for anxiety.

At least one person was injured when the severe storm cell passed over Sydney’s Desalination Plant at Kurnell, causing extensive damage to parts of the plant.

At least one person was injured when the severe storm cell passed over Sydney’s Desalination Plant at Kurnell, causing extensive damage to parts of the plant. Photo: 7 News

CEO Keith Davies said no workers were seriously hurt.

“Site operators were able to get into a safe place during the storm, and are in the process of making the site safe now,” Mr Davies told AAP.

“No-one has been seriously injured but one person has been taken to local hospital with minor injuries.”

Roofs and windows were ripped from Sydney’s Desalination Plant in Kurnell as a tornado swept through the region. Photo: 7 News

Mr Davies said it was too early to determine the precise extent of the damage, or the repair bill.

The storm also impacted the Caltex oil refinery in Kurnell, which had to be evacuated during the wild weather, reports.

While officers were damaged, officials have confirmed that there was no fire or oil spill at the plant and have said that no containers were breached or damaged in anyway.

Heavy rain, flooding and monster hailstones have also caused havoc in other parts of Sydney and strong winds swept across most parts on NSW.

Torrential rain battered Cronulla triggering flash flooding, while at South Maroubra a parked car was crushed by a fallen tree.

Flash flooding in Cronulla. Photo: Twitter

Beth, who lives and works in Cronulla in the city’s south, told AAP that “golf ball-size hail” fell on St Andrew’s Anglican Church.

“We had some brown-outs, lots of thunder and lightning, and some large hail,” she said.

“The wind was strong and it was hitting our glass windows. I have a big dint in the front of my car.”

Hailstorms thrash Cronulla Beach. Photo: Twitter
The BoM warning map. Photo: Supplied

While there were delays and diversions at Sydney airport, flights continued to land and depart.

A total of six international and four domestic flights were diverted from Sydney.

7 News viewer Jayden Ward sent in this speccy of the Tornadic Supercell at Bondi.
Cricket ball-sized hailstones have thrashed southern Sydney. Photo: Facebook

Additional information in relation to the flood and severe weather warnings can be viewed on

Tennis ball-sized hailstones pelted down in Cronulla Beach. Photo: Supplied
The Engadine Rural Fire Brigade are responding to a roof collapse in Kurnell. Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

For emergency help in floods and storms, ring the SES (NSW and ACT) on 132 500.

Weather updates – Check the Bureau of Meteorology
Storm response and safety information – Check the NSW SES
Traffic information – Check Live Traffic NSW
Public Transport – Check Transport NSW



  • A violently rotating column of air, in contact with the ground, often visible as a funnel-shaped cloud.
  • Rare in Australia but can happen with almost any severe thunderstorm, and occur most commonly in late spring and summer.
  • Range in size from a few tens of metres across to around a kilometre in diameter.



  • Between 10 and 20 are sighted in Australia every year.
  • 364 tornadoes have occurred across NSW from 1795 to June 2003.



  • Need intense, sustained updraught.
  • Strong change in wind speed and/or direction.
  • Strong winds at cloud-top level.

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