People trapped as cars crushed in freak Perth thunderstorm

Samantha Rogers Phil Hickey and Peter De KruijffThe West Australian
VideoPerth has been hit by hundreds of lightning strikes as an afternoon storm rolled in from the north - just after school pickup - but just as work finished.

Several people had to be rescued after roads were flooded, roofs were torn off homes and trees were pulled down when a severe storm battered the Perth metropolitan area late this afternoon.

The severe weather brought heavy rainfall, spectacular lightning strikes and damaging winds to Perth from about 4.45pm onwards just as thousands of people began the journey home.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued the severe weather warning for dozens of Perth suburbs from Joondalup in the north to Rockingham in the south.

The rain and wind caused several trees to fall onto cars, leaving people trapped.

There were at least two such reports last night, one in Wembley, the other in Belmont. The extent of the injuries to the people caught up the drama is yet to be revealed.

Picture: Daniel Wilkins
Camera IconPicture: Daniel Wilkins Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

But the woman trapped in the car in Wembley was extracted within about ten minutes. It’s believed the woman, reportedly appearing to be in her 50s, was not seriously injured.

She had been travelling north on Harborne Street towards Lake Monger Drive when the tree came down at around 5pm.

It smashed onto the roof of the car behind where the driver sits and into the front wall of Wembley resident Trish Moroney’s house.

Ms Moroney said she heard a loud bang and walked out front to find the top of the tree in her garden.

“Just a guy in high-vis was on the roof of the car trying to help another man to get the door open … so she could get out,” she said.

“She got out and walked … she seemed fine, just a bit shocked.”

An ambulance took the woman to hospital.

This afternoon's storm hit when city workers were leaving the CBD.
Camera IconThis afternoon's storm hit when city workers were leaving the CBD. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

There were also fears last night for an elderly person possibly injured after their roof collapsed in Nollamara.

One person had to be pulled from a vehicle when they became stranded in localised flooding in Mindarie.

A department of fire and emergency services spokeswoman said within about 20 minutes of the storm hitting, nine calls had been received from members of the public for help.

Moments after the storm hit there were reports of trees down in Heathridge, Nollamara and East Victoria Park.

Power lines also came down in North Perth, Mount Hawthorn, Inglewood and Wanneroo.

A lightning strike hitting a grass tree sparked a fire in Melville, destroying a nearby gazebo as residents tried to douse the flames.

Tree on fire in Melville.
Camera IconTree on fire in Melville. Credit: Facebook / Robbie McClafferty/Facebook / Robbie McClafferty

The severe weather system brought strong wind gusts also. A wind gust of 93km/h was reported at Ocean Reef at 4.40pm and another wind gust of 80km/h was reported at the Mt Lawley station at 4.56pm.

The Perth rain gauge copped more than 11 millimetres of rain in just a few short minutes as the storm hit.

Tonight Western Power said there were about 20,000 customers without power.

Among the affected areas were North Beach, Trigg, Karrinyup, Balga, Hamersley, Balcatta and Yokine.

“We have mobilised extra fault crews to address a large number of hazard reports that are coming in and our priority is to make these hazards safe before we begin any restoration,” a spokesman said late yesterday.

The city was blanketed by dark clouds as the storm rolled in from Perth’s north.
Camera IconThe city was blanketed by dark clouds as the storm rolled in from Perth’s north. Credit: Instagram / waytoomuchcoffee/Instagram / waytoomuchcoffee

Trains on the Joondalup, Midland, Fremantle and Mandurah lines also experienced delays due to the severe weather.

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