Thunderstorms to hit Sydney peak-hour commuters

Flash point: people take shelter at Wet’n’Wild after it shut due to the thunderstorm. Photo: Tamara DeanA man was struck by lightning as severe thunderstorms swept across Sydney on Friday afternoon.

The slow-moving storms, while unlikely to cause the widespread downpours of Wednesday evening, are already bringing heavy rains and lightning to areas of the city’s west, affecting commuter traffic.

The newly opened Wet’n’Wild entertainment park was closed due to safety fears.

The 50-year-old man was struck by lightning at Baulkham Hills, the Ambulance Service of NSW says.

The man was taken to Westmead Hospital in stable condition.

As at 6:30pm, Endeavour Energy reported power had been restored to 13,000 homes across western Sydney.

But damage to local power lines meant around 5000 households remained in the dark, the power company said in a statement.

Crews were working to restore 2500 customers in Girraween, Blacktown, Rossmore, Pendle Hill, Prospect, Bringelly, Austral, Greendale, West Hoxton and Kemps Creek by 7pm, it said.

“Power supply to other customers in Winston Hills, the north western parts of the Macarthur region and the Southern Highlands will be progressively undertaken tonight,” Endeavour said.

The Bureau of Meteorology said Baulkham Hills received 31.5mm of rain in just one hour late this afternoon. At Blacktown, 26.5mm fell over the same time.

The BoM said the severe thunderstorms were moving in a north-easterly direction and warned that heavy rainfall could lead to flash flooding.

Wet’n’Wild in Prospect posted an alert on its Facebook page: “We have currently suspended the operation of our slides and attractions due to extreme weather conditions in the area.”

“The health and safety of our guests is our highest priority and we will be up and running again as soon as the lightning clears.”

Fairfax Media photographer Tamara Dean, who was at the venue, said loudspeakers were used to tell people to take shelter as the storm approached.

“It got pretty intense,” Dean said. “Little kids were crying.”

After the initial storm passed, the people already in the park were ushered out and given complimentary tickets to return on another day.

Thunderstorms may return on Saturday afternoon, particularly in western parts of the city, he said.

Temperatures are likely to remain above 20 degrees until Wednesday, with daily maximums of about 26-28 degrees, partly cloudy weather and the odd shower, the bureau said.

Weatherzone is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this website.

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