A strong thunderstorm rolled into Sydney area from the Tasman Sea late Tuesday, June 6, 2017, bringing strong winds and heavy rain. The storm caused loss of a number of radio frequencies, thus cutting communication between planes and the control tower at Sydney Airport, causing major flight delays.
Sydney’s ‘feel like’ temperature dropped to 2.9 °C (37 °F) at midnight, just a few minutes before the storm rolled in. The heaviest overnight falls started around 00:30 AEST and continued through the rest of the night.
The storm further intensified shortly before 16:00 AEST and caused ‘loss of a number of frequencies which have affected arriving and departing aircraft due to storm activity and poor weather,’ Airservices Australia spokeswoman said.
“The outage ccurred during the late afternoon peak and planes had been placed in holding patterns above Sydney for up to an hour,” she said. Contrary to some suggestions from passengers, Airservices said lightning did not strike the airport’s control tower.
Although airtraffic has been mostly normalized by late Wednesday, authorities advised anyone traveling on Wednesday night to check their details.
According to figures provided by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Sydney’s CBD received 52.2 mm (2 inches) of rain between 09:00 AEST on Tuesday and 06:30 on Wednesday, making it the wettest day in Sydney since February.
The heaviest rain was recorded in Little Bay, Sydney’s south-east with 54 mm (2.1 inches) during the same period. Chatswood recorded 50 mm (1.9 inches), and Bondi 45 mm (1.8 inches).
According to Weatherzone, there were 1 426 lightning striks (ground and cloud events) within a 50 km (31 miles) radius of Sydney’s CBD from midnight until 17:40 AEST.
Ausgrid said up to 8 000 homes were without power from Cherrybrook, Pennant Hills and nearby subburbs.
Meteorologists expect heavy rain to ease from Thursday, but showery conditions will continue affecting the region until Sunday.