FEROCIOUS storms left a trail of destruction across North West NSW yesterday, felling trees, damaging homes and cutting power to 10,000 customers.
Powerful wind gusts exceeding 100km/h swept through from the west in the afternoon, forcing residents to scramble for cover.
Tamworth and its surrounding districts copped the brunt of the two brief but extreme storms, with more than 6000 homes losing power, while in Gunnedah 3000 customers were affected.
Essential Energy was forced to call in reinforcements from neighbouring areas to assist local workers restore power as quickly as possible.
Numerous roads were blocked by falling trees, with motorists experiencing lengthy delays when both lanes of the New England Highway about 5km south of Glen Innes were closed.
The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) had received 58 calls for assistance by late yesterday afternoon, predominantly from the Tamworth area.
“Most of those jobs are relating to trees being down,” SES Namoi region spokesman Todd Burns said.
“We’ve got quite a large number of significant trees that have been brought down by the wind and the softening of the ground from the rainfall.”
Tamworth woman Jessie Scanlon described as “scary” the sudden nature with which the first storm front blew through Tamworth just after 1.30pm.
“One minute there was nothing (and the) next I look out my window (and it) was like a tornado coming right over us,” she said.
“(A) 12-foot trampoline went up in the air, someone’s table is on our front yard, smashed stuff came off the roof, trees are down.”
Tamworth mum Holly King received a shock when a particularly strong burst of wind lifted her daughter’s trampoline up onto her neighbour’s roof.
An East Tamworth man’s Mitsubishi sedan was badly damaged when large branches from a nearby gum tree were blown off and sent crashing onto his car.
Debris from the branches got caught in overhead powerlines, causing spectacular explosions that showered the street in sparks as onlookers watched on nervously.
Tamworth woman Hayley Crouch suffered a blow when her house, which is less than one year old, had part of its roof ripped off.
Bureau of Meteorologist duty forecaster Rob Taggart said the highest recorded wind gust in Tamworth was 81km/h, while Murrurundi was buffeted by a 109km/h breeze.
“There well could have been stronger gusts than that, it was just the highest we recorded,” he said.