BOM investigates possible tornado in Illawarra after dozens of homes are damaged


The Bureau of Meteorology says it is investigating whether a tornado or waterspout ripped through parts of the Illawarra over the weekend, destroying dozens of rooftops north of Wollongong.

Forty houses were affected in Bellambi and Corrimal and a two-storey building had its roof torn off on Sunday morning.

Adam Cotterill, a resident of Bellambi, said the wind was so strong that his aluminum boat was thrown into a nearby park.

“Around 2.30am all hell broke loose,” Mr Cotterill said.

“I just sounded like roaring thunders, like a wave coming in… kind of a roar, and all of a sudden just noise everywhere.

“Trees and stuff were going all over the place. There was just metal and stuff strewn all over the park.

“I went out and my tinnie was sitting in the park.

“It just made a total mess of my entire back yard and front yard.”

Mr Cotterill said it was incredible no one was injured.

The storm destroyed this fence in a house in East Corrimal.(ABC Illawarra: Nick McLaren)

The Bureau is investigating

The weather office said it was unable to confirm the exact cause of the damage because the event was too small and of too short duration to be predicted or tracked via weather radars.

Investigations are continuing to determine if the event was caused by a tornado or a waterspout. A waterspout is a type of tornado that forms over water.

“The radar images that we had at the same time as the reports of the tornado will require a little more investigation,” said Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Helen Reid.

“But it seemed like there was potential for additional circulation in what was happening at the time.

A tree split in two in Corrimal
Trees were snapped in half in Corrimal in the path of the suspected tornado.(ABC Illawarra: Kelly Fuller)

The state emergency department said it received 68 calls for help in the area Sunday morning and a large trampoline had to be pulled from overhead power lines.

“It was definitely an obvious lead,” said Southeast Area Assistant Incident Controller Andrew Galvin.

“A few houses have suffered quite extensive damage without a roof and it is very difficult to carry out temporary repairs on a few of them.

“So obviously there will be conversations about the way forward for these people.

Water towers on the banks of the swollen Shoalhaven River
A minor flood warning is in place for the Shoalhaven River in Nowra and Terara. (ABC Illawarra: Jessica Clifford)

Hundreds of cries for help

SES volunteers responded to more than 900 calls for help on the South Coast, Illawarra and the Southern Highlands throughout the weekend.

Some of the largest falls in the state were also recorded in the area in the 24 hours through Sunday morning.

At least 368 millimeters fell at Brogers Creek near Berry and 298 millimeters was recorded at Darkes Forest.

A severe weather warning remained in place across the region on Monday with an evacuation warning issued for several RV parks around Lake Illawarra.

A minor flood warning also remained in place for the Shoalhaven River in Nowra and Terara and for St Georges Basin in Sussex Inlet and along Island Point Road.

A building whose roof has been torn off.
The roof of a building was torn off in Corrimal.(ABC Illawarra: Kelly Fuller)

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