“It sounded like every door in the house slamming”.
This was the terrible moment when the Sydney storm struck the Sydney bayside suburb of Kurnell.
For Renee Celarc and her workmates, it was just another Wednesday at Professional Beauty Solutions, a distributor of beauty products with an office and warehouse in Kurnell.
A warehouse in Celarc's office space in Kurnell
“It was dark and raining all morning like the rest of Sydney,” Celarc said. “Then a really strong lightning bolt hit and all the windows got sucked out by the wind.
“It sounded like every door in the house slamming and everyone ran to the bathroom to hide. That was the only safe spot without external windows.”
“The roof is totally off, and every one of our office internal walls made of gyprock is crumpled.
“Outside a truck is totally flipped on its side. I can’t think of anything else but a tornado that could do that.”
The truck outside Renee's office in Kurnell, Sydney
Storms were always on the forecast for Sydney today, but the official upgraded warning of severe storms and possible tornadoes at 10.41 am came too late for the residents and workers of Kurnell, an isolated suburb on the southern shore of Botany Bay where Captain Cook first set foot on Australian soil in 1770.
At 10.30 local time, winds reached 213 km/h. This is a wind strength associated with Category 3 severe tropical cyclones. But this was no cyclone. Whether it was a severe thunderstorm or an actual tornado remains to be determined.
The storm front then moved north to the Sydney CBD
What’s beyond doubt is that it was incredibly scary.
“It felt like it lasted ages,” Renee Celarc recalled. “It would have lasted five or so minutes in real time but in frightened time it felt like we were hiding for about half an hour.”
Some of the destruction caused by the storm in Kurnell