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Thursday 29 September 2016 | Published in Regional


South Australia blacked out after freak weather AUSTRALIA – Power is gradually being turned back on across parts of South Australia, but much of the state remains in darkness after a widespread blackout. One of the most extreme weather systems in decades cut power to the entire state with more wild weather is on the way, with another intense low-pressure system expected to cross the state yesterday. Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Brett Gage said a severe weather warning remained current for widespread parts of the state, with the west coast of Eyre Peninsula in for a “real buffeting” with winds expected to reach storm force, with predicted gusts of up to 140 kilometres per hour. The extreme weather reached Adelaide about midday Wednesday dumping up to 100mm of rain in some areas, including the Adelaide Hills, where a flood warning was in place. Similar falls were sustained in the mid north with the cyclonic conditions whipped up large swells along the state’s coast, producing 10-metre waves in some locations. Electric trains, trams and traffic lights were also down across the state capital Adelaide, causing gridlock. South Australia Power Networks spokesman Paul Roberts said power was being restored to some of Adelaide on Wednesday evening, but warned it would be a “gradual process”. He said people in the Mid North and Eyre Peninsula areas should prepare for extended power outages. The statewide outage happened after severe weather knocked out three transmission lines and 22 towers. Optus and some Vodafone networks were also down across the state. Roberts said the new storm front expected on Thursday was a big concern for the electricity network. Earlier, Telstra’s South Australia general manager spokesman Mark Bolton said mobile phone users should prepare for a loss of network coverage as towers and exchanges ran out of back-up power. Police were urging owners and occupiers of buildings to check if anyone was trapped in lifts after emergency services rescued 19 people from lifts in Adelaide. State Premier Jay Weatherill said there had been 80,000 lightning strikes across the state. “Some of them hit our electricity infrastructure including our generators. This is making the job of turning the power back on extremely hazardous and difficult.” He urged people not to travel on the roads “unless absolutely necessary” during the blackout. Weatherill said the weather event had “destructive wind gusts” which saw transmission poles pulled out of the ground. He said the weather incident caused the failure of the entire South Australian electricity network”. He said the statewide blackout occurred due to the massive damage to infrastructure which resulted in the sudden drop in energy frequency in the network. It triggered an automatic cut at the interconnector to protect the national network. - PNC sources