Severe thunderstorm warning issued

VICTORIANS have been warned to brace for damaging wind, heavy rainfall, flash flooding and large hailstones.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe thunderstorm warning for western and central Victoria just before 10am.

The warning includes Bendigo and Maryborough. It also covers Melbourne, Mildura, Horsham, Ballarat, Shepparton, Seymour, Geelong and Traralgon.

Storms are expected to hit in the next couple of hours, the bureau said.

Senior forecaster Scott Williams said areas around Colac, west of Geelong, were already experiencing “nasty” storms.

While yesterday’s predicted thunderstorms “didn’t really get going”, Mr Williams warned people against complacency today.

He said there was much more upper atmosphere support for today’s extreme weather.

Mr Williams said the risk of not just lightning but also damaging winds, hailstones larger than two centimetres and flash flooding.

“This is a very broad swathe of thunderstorms moving across the state,” he said.

A caller to Fairfax radio station 3AW said he could see lightning strikes “everywhere” around Hamilton, in the state’s west.

“It’s not looking good,” he said.

The State Emergency Service advises that people should:

* keep clear of fallen power lines.

* secure any loose objects in the vicinity of your home.

* keep away from creeks and drains.

* do not drive vehicles through flooded areas.

* stay indoors if possible.

* avoid using the phone during the storm.

* if you are outside, avoid sheltering under trees

* listen to the radio for storm updates

* switch off your computer and electrical appliances.

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