South Australia Went Entirely Without Power Amid Monster Storm

But it's far from over.

28/09/2016 10:21 AM AEST | Updated 29/09/2016 12:31 AM AEST

Power was slowly being restored across South Australia on Wednesday night, after the biggest storm to hit the state in half a century caused a statewide blackout.

There have been no deaths or serious injuries caused by the storm which has been declared a "major incident". However, severe weather is set to hit parts of the state again on Thursday.

The South Australian electricity network was shut down at about 3:50pm on Wednesday after storms knocked out 22 transmisison towers across the state.

The damage caused a break in electricity lines which forced the entire system to shut down "to protect itself", as well as cutting the interconnector between South Australia and Victoria's energy systems -- so Victoria was not affected.

In a press conference on Wednesday night, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said more than 80,000 lightning strikes hit the state, with many hitting generators and power infrastructure.

The entire state was without power for hours, with traffic lights down, train and tram services ceased and SA Water unable to remove sewage and deliver water to some customers after power was lost at pumping stations.

South Australian Police Commissioner Grant Stevens declared the outage a "major incident", but reassured residents that all emergency services were delivered sufficient resources to continue operating across the state.

Hospitals began running on generators and emergency services coordinated with the Red Cross to help those most vulnerable.

The SA Premier said 19 people have been rescued from lifts as police urged South Australians to avoid travel unless critical and remain inside.

Weatherill praised the work of emergency services but said "we're still in the middle of it" as winds of 125 kilometres per hour are expected to hit the west coast of South Australia -- with Elliston expected to be hit the hardest. There are significant flooding risks in Port Pirie.

Crews are currently responding to emergency calls and power networks are working throughout the night to restore power across the state.

Most metro trains will be running on Thursday morning and schools across the state -- except in the northern region -- will be directed to reopen.

At 7:30pm homes and businesses in Adelaide's metro region began slowly regaining access to power, however power is not expected to be fully restored across the state until the early hours of Thursday morning.

South Australia's backup base load generators are slowly repowering the system.

In a press conference on Wednesday night, Weatherill said the process has to occur gradually, and the southern part of the state was expected to be restored with power before the north.

The South Australian Premier said "this would happen to any system anywhere in the world."

SA Power Networks confirmed the whole of the state was without power on Wednesday afternoon and told South Australians to conserve mobile phone batteries.

Some of the towns hardest hit by the storm include Gawler, Kapunda, Balaklava and Cleve, which lie on the central Eyre Peninsula.

South Australia is heavily reliant on renewable energy, with 40 percent of the state's power coming from wind generation. Wind turbines cannot run in severe weather when the winds are too strong.

The issue has become politicised already -- which you can read all about here -- as South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon called the state government's renewable energy strategy "reckless". Xenophon told the ABC "this is a textbook case of how not to do it" and "if heads have to roll, then so be it."

Footage of hailstones hitting the roads and homes across the state were trending on social media on Wednesday night, with photos showing Adelaide city in gridlock.

The state is expected to be hit with more severe weather on Thursday with more rain and gale-force winds of up to 120km per hour.

Adelaide has already been hit with some pretty gnarly weather in September. Heavy rain and severe flooding struck the South Australian capital and surrounds earlier this month.

On Wednesday morning, the South Australian capital was expecting up to 80mm of rain over the next couple of days.

Its entire monthly average for September is 58mm, and there has already been 81mm so far this month.

Credit: Bureau of Meteorology

The image above is the radar image at about 10.30am Wednesday, which shows heavy rain bearing down on Adelaide which was just the beginning of the biggest storm to hit the state in 50 years.


Yep, Adelaide is copping it. Here's the lunchtime radar. 16mm in 90 minutes, and counting.

Bureau of Meteorology
Good day to be an umbrella seller.

Once the initial deluge passes, the swirling system in the southern ocean is set to strike -- which you can see really clearly on the Bureau of Meteorology's satellite image.

Bureau of Meteorology

The satellite image shows a deep low pressure system with lots of cloud and loads of cold air.

Melbourne is in for wild weather on Thursday and Friday and heavy snow is forecast for the Australian Alps too ahead of the close of the ski season this Sunday.

If forecasts hold true, as much as a metre of snow will fall, and heavy snow could also extend to the Blue Mountains just west of Sydney.

As the above image suggests, the weather systems over the last two weeks have brought lots of rain to inland areas of NSW and VIC which has been (mostly) good news for farmers.

Inland NSW should also see heavy rain Thursday and into Friday, which will likely exacerbate the problems in the state's Central West, where the town of Forbes has been declared a disaster zone.

Jason Reed / Reuters
The RAAF memorial in Forbes.

Still confused? Here's what you need to know.

For further information and updates on the South Australian power outages click here.

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