South Australia without power as severe thunderstorms unleash chaos

Weather officials forecast that the stormy conditions will continue through Thursday.

South Australia loses power after massive storm
Police direct traffic in the central business district (CBD) of Adelaide after severe storms and thousands of lightning strikes knocked out power to the entire state of South Australia Reuters

The entire state of South Australia was without power on Wednesday after severe thunderstorms knocked out infrastructure and caused complete chaos. Authorities have warned of more wild weather.

The state, which is about one and a half times the size of France and with a population of some 1.7 million, experienced torrential rainfall and hail stones. A massive storm struck with destructive wind gusts of up to 140 km per hour (87 mph).

The Bureau of Meteorology said the situation was a complete chaos with trees being torn down and roofs ripped out. Thousands of homes and business were without power and cars were gridlocked on flooded streets. The traffic lights also stopped working.

The authorities said this was one of the most intense storms to hit the state in recent years.

Jay Weatherill, South Australia's Premier said the duration of the outage was "unknown". He urged people to avoid travel and said authorities sought to restore the network "in the coming hours".

"At this stage we're still gathering information about the cause, but it appears that there was a weather event which has damaged infrastructure in the Port Augusta region," Weatherill told local ABC radio.

He also added that the grid had shut down to protect itself after a "dramatic drop in frequency" in the power network.

SA Power Networks is responsible to run the electricity distribution network of the state. It tweeted on Wednesday saying that South Australians should "brace for extended outages and ensure you conserve mobile device battery".

"We're experiencing a statewide outage and have no supply from the upstream transmission network," SA Power Networks added.

Weather officials forecast that the stormy conditions will continue through Thursday.

Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg told Sky News that "serious questions" would be raised about this situation. He said people would surely ask how a major state's entire electricity supply could be pummelled by a severe storm.