Sydney has experienced another morning of wild weather with a flash thunderstorm bringing heavy rain, hail and 30,000 lightning strikes over the city in the space of just a few hours.
The storm cell developed over the Blue Mountains about 6.30am and moved over the city’s north-western suburbs and out to sea just after 9am.
Its relatively quick exit from land prompted the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) to cancel an earlier severe thunderstorm warning.
Forecaster Abrar Shabren from BOM said a significant amount of rain fell within the space of an hour or two.
“We did see some heavy rainfall, around 15 millimetres in one hour’s time, which is quite a substantial amount,” he said.
“We do also have unconfirmed reports of large hail around the north west of Sydney and various locations have been reporting quite heavy rainfall.
Severe #Thunderstorm warning has been cancelled after bringing hail & rain to parts of city's west & north. Storms are expected to continue most of today for #GreaterSydney which will bring showers and unsettled conditions. Smoke will also hang around from the surrounding fires. pic.twitter.com/VisivvvGLi
— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) January 23, 2020
There were around 30,000 lightning strikes by 9am, of which around 400 hit the ground.
Mr Shabren said early reports suggested the storm was concentrated around Katoomba, Richmond, the Hills District, Hornsby, Berowra and the north shore.
Katoomba recorded about 15 millimetres of rain, Penrith recorded 11.8 millimetres and Box Hill recorded about 9 millimetres.
“It only lasted a couple of hours,” he said.
“It has moved offshore … and it has eased off as well but for the rest of the day we are looking at quite unsettled conditions around the Greater Sydney area.
“We will have storms, probably not as intense, but with showers and a few isolated ones forming and moving across Greater Sydney.”
The storm brought some relief from the hot and dry conditions on Thursday, with Sydney expected to reach just 28 degrees on Friday while Penrith is forecast to reach 33 degrees.
Is that why it rained dirt overnight? pic.twitter.com/13TLeQ00iE
— Penny's BDE Eyebrows R Judging U 🌈 (@dfblokes) January 23, 2020
But the BOM warns the city will continue to choke under a layer of thick bushfire smoke for at least another day or two.
Sydney woke to another brown, smoky morning with hazardous air quality levels.
The region’s air quality was almost triple the hazardous level in some areas, with Sydney’s south-west clocking 571 by 8:30am, while the north-west, including Richmond, saw 565 and the eastern suburbs at 360.
Anything over 200 is considered hazardous by health authorities.
Early on Friday, a Poor Air Quality Forecast alert was issued by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) due to elevated particle levels in Sydney.
Sydneysiders are urged to avoid rigorous exercise and spend time inside in air-conditioned venues as much as possible today.
The day’s southerly winds of up to 25 kilometres an hour will becoming east to south-easterly winds of up to 30 kph in the early afternoon.
In preparation for the storm, the State Emergency Service (SES) has recommended people move cars away from trees, secure loose items in the yard or on balconies and avoid using the phone.