The violent tornado brought about an unusual weather event in Victoria where they rarely happen given that it is a populated area.
The Bureau said the winds were moving at speeds of up to 160km/h, with the tornado measuring 60 metres wide and 3km long.
Apparently, Australia records about 60 tornadoes each year, mostly in New South Wales and Queensland, with Victoria recording just one or two in a year.
A few days ago the BOM published its preliminary findings of its investigation of the heavy storms and applauded the residents for assisting meteorologists to survey the impact of the storms, even as they tried to clean up the mess left behind by the storm.
In a statement, Peter Otto, the Bureau’s Manager at the Victorian Weather Services said the tornado was a “frightening event”.
“A series of thunderstorms tracked towards Geelong and intensified more rapidly in a span of about 10 minutes and within that series of thunderstorms, some cells ended up pitching off as tiny tornadoes,” Mr Otto noted.
During the storm, the State Emergency Service attended to more than 160 calls for urgent help from locals in Ballarat, Geelong and Stawell, with Waurn Ponds being hit hardest by the storm.
The residents have suffered serious damage to their homes and it might take time before they recover from the effects of the tornado.
“It must have been terrifying for the poor residents there.”
‘Violent’ Wind Gusts
Experts at the Australian Bureau relied on a US system used to rate tornadoes known as the Enhanced Fujita scale or the EF-scale, which categorises damage caused to trees or buildings to determine the strength of winds.
The BOM team discovered that winds during the storm hit top wind gusts of between 150-160km/h, making it a tornado.
“So really quite a violent wind gust came across in a very short period of time in a very narrow corridor at night,” Mr Otto said.
The Bureau’s Manager at Victoria Andrew Tupper reported that the tornado was most probably a category 1 or what is referred to as an EF1 intensity tornado.
“They are rare in Victoria, but with tornados we don’t always observe them,” Dr Tupper said.
Mr Otto added that the wild storm formed a long a corridor that’s about 60 metres wide and 3km long—all features of a tornado.
The next stage of the Bureau’s investigation will review the warnings issued before the storm arrived.
In the meantime, rainy and windy conditions are being experienced across Victoria, and the BOM warns of possible flash flooding particularly in East Gippsland over the weekend.
About 20-40mm of rainfall is forecast with some areas expected to receive up to 70mm, including those areas left devastated by the catastrophic bushfires that ravaged through the region earlier in the year, increasing the danger of flash flooding.