After two storms slammed Melbourne Airport within four hours on Thursday afternoon, grounding planes and flooding the terminals at Tullamarine, travellers’ Christmas travel plans were interrupted and several flights were delayed.
“Due to the possibility of a lightning strike, all aerodrome operations were momentarily paused,” an airport official stated in a statement at 4 p.m., after the initial storm had passed.
“We are presently cleaning up a considerable amount of water leaks around Melbourne Airport’s terminals after this afternoon’s storm,” the airport said. Many arriving and departing planes have been affected.
By 6 p.m., the airport had received a total of 59 millimetres of rain, with 43 millimetres of it arriving in only 25 minutes, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Another reminder that severe rain may be quite localised, Olympic Park in Melbourne only had 0.8 mm.
Water surged through the terminal ceilings and light fixtures, pooling on the floor, as passengers posted footage of the storm warning siren and the deluge on social media.
At 5.20 p.m., a second storm slammed the airport, and employees warned passengers to expect delays into the night.
There were four foreign aircraft that were rerouted to Sydney and Canberra, the representative added; one from Hawaii and three from New Zealand.
It’s the end of the storm, he prayed, and now it’s time to clean up the mess.
Ground crew have started operations and are making every effort to transport passengers to their final destinations in a timely and secure manner, he added. To all our passengers, we apologise for the delay.
The suburbs of Melbourne were also affected by the severe weather; Nine News reported that the Gladstone Park Shopping Centre was flooded, while a family in Epping said their Christmas presents had been ruined when their home flooded. Clyde North, on the city’s south-eastern outskirts, had a hailstorm so intense that it was almost mistaken for snow.
The Bureau of Meteorology said that heavy rain will likely cause flash flooding, damaging gusts, and huge hailstones, and it continued to issue severe thunderstorm warnings for certain regions across metro Melbourne and Victoria into the early evening.