Tens of thousands of Sydney residents are still without power as clean-up efforts continue after a ‘mini tornado’ ripped through the NSW capital, killing a woman and leaving two others fighting for life.
The Northern Beaches were battered by a freak storm on Sunday afternoon, which saw hundreds of homes damaged as trees were jerked from the ground and slammed onto properties from Forestville to Mona Vale.
A woman, 68, died at the scene after she was struck by a fallen tree which had been hit by lightening in a carpark in Ocean Street, Narrabeen.
Her friend, a 70-year-old woman, and a 19-year-old girl who suffered spinal injuries are both in critical conditions at Royal North Shore hospital.
More than 25,000 homes remained without power on Monday morning after the storm ripped out power lines, tore homes apart, and blew a trampoline into the ocean.
Winds peaked at 80km/h and emergency services received more than 500 calls for help, with the worst of the damage seen around Narrabeen, but also Dee Why and Mona Vale.
Additional SES volunteers from across the state are being sent to the region to assist the mass clean-up effort, with hundreds of the calls yet to be attended.
A freak storm battered the Northern Beaches on Sunday afternoon, killing a woman and leaving two fighting for life. Pictured is a unit block in Dee Why that had its roof torn off when the mini-tornado ripped through the area just after 3pm
Winds peaked at 80km/h on Sunday afternoon which saw the Dee Why unit have its roof completely ripped off the building and carried away
The Dee Why apartment building was ripped open exposing homes in the top floor on Sunday afternoon
‘We still have about 350 calls for assistance outstanding with more coming in this morning,’ the SES said.
‘The majority of jobs come through for damaged roofs, trees down, blocked driveways or streets … there’s been significant damage to property.’
Some 35,000 homes across Collaroy, Dee Why, North Curl Curl, Narrabeen and Forestville were left without electricity overnight.
‘Sunday storms have caused damage to our network and left 35,000 customers without power,’ an Ausgrid statement read.
‘We are working through the night to remove a significant amount of debris and make areas safe to undergo repairs to restore power as soon as possible. Customers should expect to be without power into Monday morning. We apologise for the inconvenience.’
Power has since been restored to around 7000 homes as emergency crews work to help get more than 22,000 properties back onto the grid.
Emergency services volunteers coned off a section of road surrounding homes in Dee Why left severely damaged by Sunday’s storm
A Northern Beaches apartment building had its roof ripped off and carried away by a ‘mini tornado’ as a freak five-minute storm swept over the city
Debris scattered the streets causing heavy damage to properties and vehicles after the freak five-minute storm cell hit
A cement driveway was uprooted by the storm as fallen trees took out powerlines around the area
Lifesavers swam out through crashing waves to get a trampoline which had been blown from a nearby backyard all the way to the waterfront
Pictures show the devastation caused by the chaotic storm with carnage scattered across Sydney’s picturesque coastline.
Side-by-side images of the same stretch in the Dee Why show barely visible buildings being lashed by heavy rainfall and wind.
Debris and what appears to be an awning then comes into shot, smashing into parked vehicles.
Shocking footage of a nearby apartment building in the beachside suburb shows a roof being stripped and sucked away by heavy winds.
Trees can be seen thrashing back and forth in the clip posted to Reddit, before the roof of the Northern Beaches unit block rips off and is carried away by cyclonic winds.
‘I think this is a tornado, oh my god!’ a person in the video can be heard screaming.
Pictures show the devastation caused by the choatic storm with carnage scattered across Sydney’s picturesque coastline
A car surrounded by fallen trees narrowly escaped damage, with police cordoning off debris littered areas across the area
Two kids watch from Narrabeen Lake after trees were uprooted and smashed into a ute parked near the shore
A Sydney apartment building had its roof ripped off and carried away by a ‘mini tornado’ as a freak five-minute storm swept over the city
Other locals say they were struggling to walk and drive as the storm cell swept through the area.
‘I was on the beach at Mona Vale when this hit and I almost got blown over trying to walk back to the car,’ another social media user posted.
‘Didn’t realise how bad it was cos it was over by the time I got in the car and started driving.’
Other pictures from the Northern Beaches show massive trees uprooted and stripped of leaves, laid bare across roads and destroyed vehicles.
One resident reported hearing screams after a tree fell and trapped several people inside a car.
Emergency services clean up the devastation left after the crazy weather slammed Sydney’s north on Sunday
Several cars were crushed by falling trees with one Northern Beaches resident hearing screaming coming from a vehicle
Trees thrashed in the cyclonic winds as the storm tore through Sydney on Sunday afternoon – with one woman dying
Cranes work to lift rubble from the top of an apartment block on Monday after its roof caved in during the freak storm
An airduct was torn from the roof of a new apartment block in Dee Why, with the pavement surrounding the building taped off to protect pedestrians from the possibility of falling debris
Police described the fatality as ‘tragic’ and said the women that were injured were simply ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’.
‘As you can imagine the patients had multiple injuries after being hit by falling branches and other debris,’ Inspector Christie Marks said.
‘We worked to treat them at the scene and get them to hospital for further care.
‘Given the size of this tree it’s remarkable that there weren’t more people injured.’
There are power outages across the region, with SES and emergency services receiving calls throughout Sunday evening.
Trees cover a footpath on the Northern Beaches after a wild storm caused mass devestation
Locals begin cleaning up their streets on Sunday evening after the freak storm lashed the area
There remains severe thunderstorm alerts in place for large parts of Sydney, Newcastle, Gosford, Wollongong and Bathurst as a storm cell sweeps over south-eastern NSW.
Experts are predicting strong winds will continue to batter the state into the night, with police urging people not to enter dangerous areas.
Temperatures peaked at 35.8 degrees on Sunday and will remain in the high 20s on Monday and Tuesday in welcome news for sun-starved Sydneysiders.
WHAT CAUSED THE FREAK STORM: TORNADO, CYCLONE OR MICROBURST?
Locals caught up in the wild weather described it as a ‘tornado-like’ winds that latest only about five minutes.
NSW Fire & Rescue workers made similar claims calling it a ‘mini-cyclone’.
But experts still aren’t sure what exactly caused the devastating winds which left a path of destruction in its wake.
‘At this stage we are still trying to analysis the direct dynamics of what occurred,’ senior meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology Jordan Notara told Daily Mail Australia.
None of the BoM’s observation stations recorded anything that would catagorise damaging wind gusts.
Mr Notara said meteorologists are not in a position to suggest any ‘tornado indicators at this moment’ but one possibility is weather phenomenon called a ‘microburst’.
‘A microburst is when a thunderstorm transports strong winds from within the clouds down to the surface,’ Mr Notara explained.
The downdraft can intensify the storm and cause immense damage.
But until more scientific data is known, experts cannot be certain.