Menacing storm rips through Clarence Valley
EMERGENCY services are responding to multiple hazards across the Clarence Valley after a storm lashed the region with heavy rain and 'cyclonic winds'.
Traffic on two major highways is affected by fallen trees while residents of Seelands are working through the night to clear roads blocking their route home.
Live Traffic NSW reports Clarence Valley Council is responding to a fallen tree on the Gwydir Highway at the Eatonsville turn off at Tindal Rd, affecting traffic in both directions.
Northbound traffic on the Pacific Highway is affected by a fallen tree about 5km north of Ulmarra, with emergency services in attendance.
In both cases motorists are advised to reduce speed and exercise caution in the area.
The Daily Examiner's general manager Kelly Price is unable to get to her home at Seelands, across the Clarence River to the west of Grafton, due to several large trees blocking Seelands Hall Rd.
She endured the storm at her parents' house, also in Seelands, and said she had never experienced such ferocious winds.
We spoke to Mrs Price from the scene just after 6.30pm as her family members and neighbours attempted to clear the road in order to get to their homes and inspect the damage of their properties.
"There's four adults and a teen with a chainsaw and a ute dragging stuff out of the way," Mrs Price said.
"We have lived through storms with cyclonic tendencies. This was worse than that. I have never ever seen winds as strong as what it was here."
Mrs Price said the intense storm lasted about 20 minutes.
"It changed directions, it was crazy. The rain was horizontal."
At this stage Mrs Price had not observed any major structural damage to property, "except for fences and a garden shed went down".
The storm hit Grafton at about 5.30pm this afternoon and, according to weatherzone.com.au, dumped 21.6mm of rain in the space of 19 minutes, delivering wind gusts of up to 87kmh.
The same storm struck Yamba on the coast after 6.10pm and dumped about 10mm in 10 minutes before easing, with winds of up to 50kmh.
NSW State Emergency Services duty operations officer Sharon Fox said the SES had received a significant number of call to jobs in the Clarence Valley.
"We've had about 24 call in the Clarence Valley in total this evening," she said. "Most are to respond to fallen and sky lights on roads, people's driveways and properties.
"There has been nothing of significance in terms of damage to major infrastructure, apart from powerlines."
There have been widespread reports of power outages at Grafton and surrounding villages.
Essential Energy is currently aware of and responding to at least nine separate interruptions to power supply throughout the Clarence Valley. Check the full list here.
At the time of writing another relatively light shower was passing through Grafton, and there is nothing on the Bureau of Meteorology's radar to suggest further inclement weather this evening.
A high chance of showers and thunderstorms are again predicted for Saturday afternoon.