Shoppers ran for cover as the ceiling collapsed inside the Westfield Mall on Mount Druitt as a rapid movement and unpredictable storm flew over Sydney’s west.
- A tornado signature was seen on the radar over western Sydney around 4pm, the bill states
- The roof of a shopping mall in Westfield collapsed due to heavy rain
- Thousands of Sydneysiders were left without power
A cell phone video showed customers rushing out of the store as cobblestones flew in and water flowed in from above.
The mall was evacuated as NSW Fire and Rescue worked to assess the damage and stabilize the roof.
Awnings in the parking lot sank under the weight of giant hail while the support poles tensed.
The collapse occurred after a heavy thunderstorm hit Sydney and NSW off the coast, bringing thunder, lightning, heavy rain and hail.
In half an hour, Penrith received 24 millimeters of rain.
A warning of a possible tornado was issued but canceled late this afternoon.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said very dangerous thunderstorms were detected on the weather radar near Horsley Park, Penrith and Newcastle.
The storms wreaked havoc on the roads, leaving some suburbs without power.
Jordan Notaro from the bill said that while an early tornado warning was issued for western Sydney, it appeared the system was weakened.
“We have not necessarily had observations of a tornado on Earth,” he said.
“We have observed giant hail, and as it went on in the afternoon, the prediction is that we may see some more giant hail pushing across the Sydney Basin as we head out into the evening.”
AUSGRID said power has been cut off to hundreds of homes and businesses in Georges Hall, Yagoona, Bankstown, Bass Hill, Condell Park and St Ives.
Endeavor Energy spokesman Peter Payne said there are around 5,900 powerless customers in the Sydney suburbs, including Mount Druitt, Minchinbury, Oxley Park, Toongabbie, Seven Hills, Prospect, Quakers Hill and Pendle Hills.
“Fortunately, the storm (brought) lots of intense rain and golf ball size hail in these regions, but not a lot of wind,” he said.
“So while we estimate a restoration time of around 9.30 tonight for most people, but hopefully the crews out there are patrolling now, and hopefully the damage is not as great as you might think and we can soon start restoring customers.”
Sir. Notaro from the bill warned that more serious storm activity could be seen tonight and tomorrow around Sydney and further north to Newcastle.
“As we head out into the evening, however, we remain on greater alert for potentially more severe storms, especially as we enter the evening to areas of Newcastle,” he said.
“The particular thunderstorm is certainly moving out to sea, but that certainly does not mean we are out of the woods.”
Other severe thunderstorms were detected on the weather radar near Wollongong, Bulli, Upper Mangrove, Engadine, Lake Macquarie, Brooklyn and Kurrajong.
The bill reported 5 inches of hail near the Wyangala dam around noon. 15:15 and hail of 3 cm to 4 cm in the Blue Mountains, while 24 mm of rain was recorded in 30 minutes at Goulburn.
The BOM warned that large, possibly gigantic hailstones, damaging winds and heavy rainfall leading to floods were likely.