Wild, wild weather

Localised wind gusts of up to 150km/h tore through Woolnorth homestead on Sunday night, damaging the old jail building and other buildings while leaving others untouched.

Damage. Extreme weather has lashed Circular Head over the past few days with Woolnorth hit hardest, recording gusts of up to 150 kilometres an hour.

Woolnorth station manager Peter van Zyl, was woken by the sounds on Sunday night believing it to be a “twister that touched down” leaving “total devastation” in its wake.

“It was absolute chaos,” he said, “the people around there (the homestead), they reckon they heard a loud bang – that must be when the roof (of the old jail) flew off.”

As well as the old jail building, four sheds and the school bus were damaged on the night, Mr van Zyl said.

Newlands farm manager Erin Quarrell said she and husband Andrew live just over two kilometres from the where the damage occurred.

“We don’t live at the homestead, we live at the farm before the homestead, but one of our workers rang us at 11pm to say a window had been smashed and a board had come through the house.”

As the worker came to stay at the safety of the Quarrells’ home for the remainder of the night, the couple was again woken at 3am by another worker who could not leave his driveway because of a fallen tree.

The couple’s three children “slept through it” and all livestock has been accounted for. “The animals were huddled up, trying to get shelter as much as they could.”

Mrs Quarrell said she is grateful no one was injured and no livestock lost, however was saddened by the damage to the historic site.

“It must have sort of been contained to that area,” she said. “Once we got down there in the daylight, it was horrible. The wind’s just horrendous even today (Tuesday).”

Later in the morning, Mrs Quarrell let Wells Waggons know that the bus would not be operational; the worst damage to a bus in the company’s history according to general manager Kimbra Wells.

“It was just parked in the wrong place at the wrong time, we’re just grateful that no one was involved,” Mrs Wells said.

Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist climatologist Ian Barnes-Keoghan said Sunday night’s weather can be explained by activity that is unusual for this time of year, with “cold fronts moving past” and “very strong westerly winds”.

Gusts of 102 km/hour recorded at Smithton Aerodrome on Tuesday morning are the equal fourth strongest noted for Smithton since the installation of recording instruments 18 years ago.

Stronger gusts of up to 109 km/h were recorded in September 2009, 2010 and 2013.

“Gusts can be quite isolated and very localised, and end up affecting only a small area in a few patches here and there,” Mr Barnes-Keoghan said, “so you can easily get some places seeing gusts and others escaping it.”

The Bureau has released a wind warning for the far north-west coast, among other areas of the state, for the next two days (Wednesday and Thursday).

To keep up to date, head to www.bom.gov.au/tas/warnings.


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