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Friday, April 19, 2024

Torrential Downpour: St Helens and Scamander Drenched in Floodwaters and Lightning Strikes

AutoTorrential Downpour: St Helens and Scamander Drenched in Floodwaters and Lightning Strikes

Assessing the Impact of Severe Weather on Tasmania’s East Coast

Understanding the Situation

Tasmania’s east coast has recently experienced severe weather conditions, including heavy rainfall and thunderstorms, prompting a flood watch and act warning for areas such as St Helens, Beaumaris, and Scamander. While the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has cancelled the severe thunderstorm warning for St Helens and Scamander, there are still concerns about potential flooding as the thunderstorm cell is predicted to move off the east coast in the afternoon.

Effects of Heavy Rains and Lightning Strikes

The heavy rains and lightning strikes have caused significant damage and disruption in the affected areas. Homes have been flooded, power outages have occurred, and roads, including the Tasman Highway, have been cut off, making transportation challenging for residents.

Update on the Situation

BOM’s Assessment

BOM meteorologist Luke Johnston highlighted that the region experienced the deluge mostly during the morning, with St Helens airport recording the highest rainfall at 145 millimeters. The flooding throughout the day has resulted in blocked roads and other infrastructure damages.

Information Resources

Residents are advised to stay updated with the latest weather warnings and road closure information provided by BOM, Tasmania Police, and TasAlert to ensure their safety and make informed decisions during this challenging time.

Impact on Infrastructure and Services

Damage to Property

Floodwaters have caused damage to properties, including the St Helens District High School building, which will remain closed on Thursday for assessment. Additionally, the St Helens Marine Rescue base reported being “struck by lightning,” necessitating a full audit of the damage.

Emergency Response

State Emergency Service (SES) teams have been actively responding to calls for assistance, with particular attention to areas experiencing localised flooding. TasNetworks reported power outages affecting hundreds of customers in several areas, adding to the challenges faced by emergency responders.

Safety Precautions and Advisory

Police Advisory

Tasmania Police, through Inspector Luke Manhood, have urged locals to avoid driving due to the high risk of flash flooding and poor visibility. This cautionary advice aims to prevent accidents and ensure public safety during adverse weather conditions.

School Closures

Due to the severe thunderstorms and heavy rains, St Helens District School will remain closed on Thursday for safety assessments. Another school closure is attributed to a heightened bushfire risk, prompting the Department of Education, Children, and Young People to prioritize student safety.

Preparedness for Future Events

Fire Danger Assessment

The Tasmania Fire Service has implemented proactive measures, including a total fire ban for southern Tasmania from 2 am on Thursday. This decision follows forecasts of extreme fire danger ratings due to an impending heatwave, highlighting the importance of preparedness and vigilance in fire prevention efforts.

Hot Day Response Team

Deputy Chief Officer Matt Lowe emphasized the readiness of the fire service’s ‘Hot Day Response team’ to address any fire-related incidents promptly. These measures aim to mitigate the risks associated with the anticipated extreme weather conditions and safeguard lives and properties.

Conclusion

The recent severe weather event on Tasmania’s east coast underscores the importance of proactive planning, effective communication, and community cooperation in responding to natural disasters. As authorities continue to monitor the situation and provide updates, residents are urged to prioritize safety, heed advisory measures, and support emergency response efforts to mitigate the impact of adverse weather conditions.

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