<div>Warning some could be waiting ‘days if not weeks’ for power</div>

Warning some could be waiting ‘days if not weeks’ for power

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Almost half a million Victorian homes and businesses are without power and there are warnings some may need to wait weeks to be reconnected after ferocious storms caused major electrical transmission lines and power generators to fail.

Wild weather ripped through large parts of regional Victoria and Melbourne this afternoon bringing golf-ball-sized hail, flash flooding and severe winds.

The Australian Energy Market Operator confirmed a “significant power system event” unfolded during the storms, taking down hundreds of powerlines and poles.

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‘It may take days if not weeks to restore electricity to all’

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said it was “one of the largest outage events in the state’s history” and some transmission lines had physically collapsed.

“Power line companies will work through the night to assess damage to sub transmission lines, zone sub-stations and feeders,” she said.

“We hope to see more customers reconnected overnight with priority given to power dependent customers.”

In an 8.30pm update, AEMO said about 473,000 homes and businesses remained without power slightly down from the earlier peak of 530,000.

“It’s estimated that strong winds and fallen trees have damaged hundreds of powerlines and power poles,” the independent energy grid operator said.

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“Network crews continue to endure challenging weather conditions, falling trees and access issues to repair damaged powerlines and critical energy infrastructure.

“Crews are actively working to restore power to these impacted areas. However, given the extent of the widespread damage, it may take days if not weeks to restore electricity to all of those [impacted].”

Transmission lines destroyed

Incredible images emerged of the destroyed power transmission lines appearing to show the lines, near Geelong, completely collapsed.

Crews have been sent out to inspect the lines but it’s unknown how long it will take to restore them. 

In a statement, a spokesperson from AEMO said crews were actively working to restore power to impacted areas.

“These power outages are due to high temperatures, strong winds and lightning causing damage to the electricity network,” the spokesperson said.

The AusNet Services network, in outer east and outer northern Melbourne, eastern and north-eastern Victoria, and United Energy power network, in south-east Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula, were the worst hit.

More than 260,000 AusNet Customers and more than 130,000 United users were still disconnected at 8.30pm.

Tens of thousands of Powercor Australia customers in central and western Victoria and Melbourne’s outer west were also affected, along with more than 12,000 on the CitiPower network in the CBD and inner suburbs.

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Dozens of metropolitan train lines were suspended due to the weather. Services on all but the Belgrave line were back up and running late tonight but facing major delays.

V/Line services on the Seymour line were still cut to due to the power outages, while the Bendigo line ran to an extreme heat timetable.

The State Emergency Service said it had received more than 1500 calls for help by 6pm and called for residents to remain patient.

Severe thunderstorms and lightning

After mostly dry, hot and windy conditions this morning, the severe thunderstorms and lightning rolled across central parts of Victoria and Melbourne this afternoon.

Storms early this morning caused major fires to ignite in western Victoria, with emergency services warning the dangerous weather conditions “aren’t over yet.”

The storms wreaked havoc in the west of the state, with heavy hail and strong winds bringing down powerlines and ripping up infrastructure at Anakie, north of Geelong.

Major flooding inundated roads in Clayton, in Melbourne’s south-east, where a large tree fell onto a road and ripped up a footpath.

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The storms were so fierce they ripped the roof off one house in Melbourne, scattering debris over the road.

After a 41-degree high, the temperature quickly dropped to 26 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Wind gusts reached up to 130km/h in parts of the state.

Stunned locals shared the aftermath of the “chaotic” storms, that tore sheds apart and flung trampolines through the air.

Others shared vision to social media of large pieces of hail strewn about backyards.

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The severe storms also caused trees to fall across major roads in Melbourne’s Ferntree Gully.

Bureau of Meteorology emergency services meteorologist Kevin Parkyn said the early thunderstorms contributed to the fires crews were currently battling in western Victoria.

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