South Australia's power outage 'once in 50 year event'

Damage in South Australia (Channel 7)
Damage in South Australia (Channel 7)

A super storm has left the entire state of South Australia without power.

It's been described as a once in 50 year event.

It is forcing nurses and doctors to work by candlelight, and trapping people in elevators - and it's not over yet

Over 1.6 million people have been affected - to put that into perspective that's a quarter of NZ's population and about the same number of people who live in Auckland alone.

"It was a catastrophic weather event. What it did is it ripped out about 22 - probably even more - high voltage pylons," says State Premier Jay Weatherill.

Giant balls of hail pelted the ground, as more than 80,000 lightning strikes lit up the sky and brought down large trees.

"Lightning strikes hit the tree out on the street and the tree seems to have exploded and come down into the house taking another tree with it. It's gone through our kitchen windows and through a bedroom," says resident Emma Altman.

It was dining by candle light for many.

And for anyone stuck in their car it was utter chaos, with traffic lights out and windscreen wipers hard pressed to keep up with rain.

"It is essential that people stay off the road unless it's absolutely critical that they travel," says South Australia State Police Commissioner Grant Stevens.

A tornado also swept through the small town of Blyth, north of Adelaide.

Roofs were ripped off houses, while wind gusts of more than 125 km/h also snapped electricity towers.

Mobile and landline communication was affected. Even emergency service lines were down in some isolated parts of the state.

Power's been restored to most of South Australia but the emergency isn't over yet. The worst of the bad weather isn't over, more wind and rain is to come tonight - and NSW is next in line.