Jason Morice said the traffic lights had changed from red to green five times and traffic hadn’t moved. (Supplied)
Wild weather across Tasmania has left thousands of homes without power, unroofed buildings and contributed to hours of traffic chaos in the Hobart CBD.
A cold front moved east over Tasmania bringing wind gusts of over 100 kilometres per hour at Wynyard, Launceston, Friendly Beaches and Mount Wellington.
Two crashes at the top of the Southern Outlet and CBD around 4:00pm left traffic crawling for hours, with cars banked up from the eastern shore at Rosny through Hobart an down the Southern Outlet.
About 21,000 Tasmanian homes and businesses are still without power.
Jason King from TasNetworks said downed power lines caused most of the outages.
“I think the intensity caught everybody by surprise, so we’re getting reports at the moment of everything from trampolines into lines, roofs through lines, trees through lines, so it’s the intensity of the wind as well as the lightning on top of that’s really caused us quite intense problems,” he said.
TasNetworks expects to restore power to most properties by tonight.
The Bureau of Meterology has maintained a severe weather warning for most Tasmanian districts, with damaging winds with gusts up to 110 kilometres per hour forecast.
Forecaster David Matthews said the cold front that brought the storms had already passed off to Tasmania’s east.
He said strong winds would persist across the state on Wednesday afternoon.
“We’ve got a fairly strong westerly flow, so in between those showers and just before those showers arrive we will see those winds pick up again briefly across most of the state, although it is certainly maintaining strong and gusty conditions across the north of the state at the moment.”
A wind gust of 146kmph was recorded on King Island about 6:30am.
The wild weather caused some flight delays in Hobart and Launceston this morning.
A Hobart airport spokeswoman said four flights were delayed between 10:15am and 11:00am due to lightning strikes near the airport.
“For safety reasons the ground handling agents correctly made the decision not to operate during this time,” she said.
“Everything is running back to schedule.”
Jetstar said some of its morning flights from Launceston were delayed by about 10 minutes but the schedule had returned to normal, while Virgin said its customers experienced minimal delays.
Police warn of road hazards
Police are asking motorists to be safe on the roads with numerous reports of fallen trees and powerlines.
Senior Sergeant Nick Clark said there had also been reports of problems with traffic lights.
“Whether you’re travelling along major highways, an urban street or rural road, you’ve got to remember there’s going to be a lot of debris across the road today,” he said.
“Trees down, possibly power lines down — so just slow down, drive to the conditions take your time with where you have to get to.”
Emergency workers had dealt with 34 calls for help, with 25 calls in the north, 15 in the north-west and four in the south.
Leon Smith from the State Emergency Service (SES) said it had received about 30 calls for help, mainly in the north and north-west.
“[They] were typical events associated with high winds; trees down partial roof damage and things like that more wind related with that front coming through,” he said.
Mr Smith said unsecured garden furniture and sheds caused some damage.
“It’s highlighted where people have been probably deficient in securing their garden sheds in their yards today, we’ve had multiple instances in the northern region especially where that uplifted and thrown a few heavier items around in people’s yards and things,” he said.
The weather bureau’s David Matthews said that while the heavy rain had mostly passed, damaging winds were forecast to continue into the afternoon across the state.
“There’s a fairly strong westerly flow behind this front and so we expect those conditions to continue and we expect the potential for damaging wind gusts right into the afternoon,” he said.
North-west residents rang ABC Radio saying conditions were severe.
Matt Bendall from Wychwood Gardens Nursery near Mole Creek said he experienced intense rain, with the wind picking up for about five minutes.
“It was just cyclonic,” he said.
“One of our English Oaks just snapped clean in two, quite extraordinary. Intense crazy winds and then just gone in a heartbeat”.
The State Emergency Service said isolated gusty winds could reach 130 kilometres per hour and residents should secure loose items.
The cold front has also caused problems in Victoria with wind gusts of more than 100kph recorded in Melbourne.
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