Thousands still without power in Tasmania’s north-west after wild winds

Thousands of houses remain without power in Tasmania’s north-west after damaging winds whipped through the area over the weekend, toppling trees and blocking roads.

The destructive winds brought down powerlines and, in Beulah, a tree fell, killing a 54-year-old woman and sending a 55-year-old man to hospital with serious injuries.

At one point, around 20,000 houses were without power across affected areas.

TasNetworks crews worked throughout the weekend to restore power to as many properties as possible.

Southern crews have now joined their northern counterparts to help with the mammoth task of reconnecting electricity.

As of 4.55pm on Monday, TasNetworks said there were 47 known outages across Tasmania affecting 2,854 customers — 2,045 in the north-west of the state.

Speaking to ABC Radio Hobart Mornings on Monday, acting SES director Leon Smith said there were more than 220 requests for assistance over the weekend.

“The hardest-hit area of the state is the north-west, up around the Gunns Plain, Sheffield, Kimberley area,” he said.

“[It was] quite erratic wind behaviour. You’ve seen the consequences of that destructive wind and it’s been quite phenomenal, keeping our volunteer crews extremely busy.”

A cabin is partially missing its roof after strong winds.
The wind damaged houses and brought down trees near Sheffield. (ABC News: Daniel Miller)

Mr Smith said the clean-up effort was significant.

“The priority was to get roads open … to enable access to communities,” he said.

“That’s been done, but you can imagine the debris associated with those huge trees that actually have come down will take some time to actually clean up — probably weeks.”

On top of that, he said, there was ongoing damage to a large number of houses with total or partial roof losses.

Dairy power repairs ‘critical’

Dairy farms have also been affected, with the executive officer at Dairy Tasmania Laura Richardson reporting that some in the north-west having to resort to generators.

“A lot of our farms missed a day of milking, and are very keen to see power restored to their farms,” she said.

“We do appreciate the efforts that are going in and hope that a lot will change today otherwise things will become more critical.”

‘It just roared’

Lois stands next to a man, smiling at the camera.
Sheffield resident Lois Lloyd (left) says the wind was scary.(ABC News: Monte Bovill)

Sheffield resident Lois Lloyd said the wind sounded like a freight train.

“It was deafening and scary,” she said.

Tony Spillane has lived in the area for more than 50 years and said it was the worst weather event he has ever seen.

“It was hell. It just roared,” he said.

“I have never seen anything like it. I didn’t get much sleep and I was a little bit scared.”

A man carries a piece of debris around a fallen tree.
Trees were brought down on Tony Spillane’s Beulah property.(ABC News: Monte Bovill)

He spent Sunday cleaning up debris around his property.

“I hope this wind goes away as soon as possible so we can get on with our lives and clean everything up,” he said on Sunday.

Drivers warned of icy conditions

While the worst of the bad weather is over, Mr Smith urged Tasmanians not to be complacent.

“Just because the severe wind has died out now, we’ve still got very icy, frosty conditions on the roads. Just be extremely careful,” he said.

“The state is very cold, it’s going to remain cold for the next few days. So, from a driving conditions perspective, it is going to be hazardous. Don’t be complacent.”

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Tasmania Police navigate treacherous conditions to rescue the hikers and walkers.

The warning comes after the wild weather brought huge snow dumps around Tasmania.

Ben Lomond ski field opened early, with operators delighted at the freezing temperatures, but elsewhere in the state, police issued a warning to bushwalkers after nine people had to be rescued from kunanyi/Mt Wellington.

Search and rescue crews endured blizzard conditions to rescue three different groups of people trapped on or near the summit.

Posted , updated 

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