Lightning storms knock out power to entire Australian state


Severe storms and thousands of lightning strikes knocked out power to the entire state of South Australia on Wednesday, authorities said, leading to port closures and commuter chaos.

South Australia is the country's fifth most populous state, with 1.7 million people and Adelaide as its capital, and is a major wine producer and traditional manufacturing hub.

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The Bureau of Meteorology said a vigorous cold front was moving across the state with an intense low pressure system due on Thursday.

"We'll have gale force winds and large seas (across the south of the country); also heavy rain and thunderstorms, which will lead to renewed river rises," it said on its website.

SA Power Networks said repairs to its transmission network were underway.

"There were more than 21,000 lightning strikes recorded over a 12-hour period from midday yesterday on the West Coast, and as a result it is likely some damage has occurred to our distribution network," it said.

The state had been brought to a standstill, with ports closed, trains and trams stopped, traffic lights out and long commuter delays, state agencies said.

South Australia was relying on accessing power from Australia's populous east coast via a power interconnector with the neighboring state of Victoria when there was a failure on Wednesday.

No power was flowing from Victoria into South Australia, said a spokesman for the Australian Energy Market Operator, which operates the power systems in southern and eastern Australia.

When the state tried to compensate, it experienced what is known as a "voltage collapse," Simon Emms, executive manager of network services at network operator ElectraNet, told ABC Radio, due to storm damage to power lines. This led to a statewide outage.

A spokeswoman for Electranet said power was being restored to some areas of Adelaide, but could not say when the lights would go on across the state.

"Now, clearly, questions will be raised," Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg told Sky News. "Serious questions will be raised that need to be answered as to how this extreme weather event could take out the whole of the electricity supply across a major state such as South Australia."

The impact was wide-ranging, with traffic coming to a standstill in Adelaide while power supplies were disrupted to BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine, a huge mining operation more than 500 km (300 miles) to the northwest.

A BHP spokesman said back-up power generation was being used to run critical infrastructure. (Writing by Jonathan Barrett; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Weather sayings: True or false?
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Weather sayings: True or false?
Seeing a ring or arc around the moon is often a good indication that the weather is changing. The Weather Channel says that due to the structure and angle of an approaching warm front a hazy layer of cloud can sometimes be seen high in the sky before the rain arrives.

Seeing a red sky at night means that an area of high pressure is moving in from the west so there will be a good chance of dry and fine weather the next day. According to The Weather Channel, red sky in the morning means that the high pressure has already passed and wet and windy weather is on its way!

True! A red sky in the morning means the high pressure system has already moved east meaning the good weather has passed and wet and windy low pressure system is heading our way.
Weather records began in 1861 and since then there has been no mention of 40 dry or 40 days of rain after St Swithin's day on 15 July, says The Weather Channel.
The Pennsylvania groundhog (Punxsutawney Phil) gives a weather prediction each year on February 5 and according to tradition, if he sees his shadow and retuns to his hole then there will be another six weeks of winter. But The Weather Channel says Phil's predictions have only been right 39 per cent of the time. 
Scientists have proved that there is a link between cows' behaviour and the weather. Researchers found that cows stand when the weather is warmer and are more likely to lie on the ground when it's cooler - such as just before it rains! 
Swallows fly at the same height as the insects they are trying to catch and eat. When the weather is warmer, the insects are propelled higher by the rising hot air - therefore the swallows have to fly higher when the weather is warmer! 
Late night rain and early morning rain are often an indication of a front passing by and this happens as often during the day as it does as night, which means rain in the morning doesn't mean it won't rain at night. 
Seagulls tend to sleep on water but when it's windy and the water becomes choppy they will move inland and huddle on the beach. 
This old proverb is thought to be a warning not to take off your clout (winter clothes) until the may blossom (better known as Hawthorn) is out because it heralds warm weather. Until you see it in full bloom there's always a chance the cold weather will return in the spring months, which happens quite frequently in the UK.
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