BOM investigates ‘tornado’

A photo of the tornado in Lara before it cut a path through Mount Duneed, Waurn Ponds, Grovedale and Armstrong Creek. (Anette Kelly)

By Luke Voogt

A storm that tore a path of destruction through Geelong’s south on Wednesday was “most likely” a tornado, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Severe winds tore roofs apart, leaving four homes unhabitable and damaging at least 40 more, as the storm cut a path through Mt Duneed, Waurn Ponds, Grovedale and Armstrong Creek about 1.15am.

Meteorologists who inspected the damage and scrutinised radar data made a preliminary finding that the storm was “most-likely” a tornado.

“The damage suggests an EF1 intensity tornado, with peak three-second wind gusts of 150 to 160 kilometres per hour,” a bureau spokesperson said.

“A narrow corridor of damage was observed across 3.5 kilometres. It is most likely that a tornado was responsible for the damage.

“The line of thunderstorms intensified rapidly in the 10 minutes before impact, and they moved rapidly over the area.

“There were a number of rotating structures within the line of storms, which supports preliminary findings of a tornadic impact.”

Tornadoes range in scale from EF0, the least significant, to EF5, the most significant, with the vast majority of tornadoes in Australia on the lower end of the scale.

About 60 tornados occur across Australia each year.

“Cool season tornados generally occur once or twice a year, but it is rare that they move through such a populated area,” a bureau spokesperson said.

“Many may go unnoticed in non-populated areas.”

Wednesday’s tornado was less significant than one that hit Axe Creek, near Bendigo, in June 2019.

But that tornado only destroyed one home as it travelled mostly through paddocks.

SES volunteers responded to more than 200 calls for help on Wednesday following the storm.

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