Severe weather warnings persist across much of Victoria after fierce storms battered Melbourne, even disrupting one of the nation’s prestigious running races and prompting AFL to halt a major match over safety concerns.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 01:Players leave the field at the three quarter time break due to nearby lightning strikes during the 2024 AFL Round 03 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Geelong Cats at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 01, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

This morning, the Bureau of Meteorology issued alerts for heavy rainfall and damaging winds in North East Victoria and parts of Central, East Gippsland, Northern Country, North Central, and West and South Gippsland. Anticipated rainfall of 30mm-50mm over six hours could lead to flash flooding, with damaging wind gusts of up to 90km/hr projected across the north-eastern ranges from this evening.

In Gippsland, sheep graziers were cautioned about rain and cold temperatures that could adversely affect their flocks. The warnings persist following yesterday’s deluge in Melbourne, where some areas received up to 60mm of rainfall. Ferny Creek in Melbourne’s south-east recorded 75mm of rain since 9 am Monday.

While the SES attended multiple calls for assistance in Melbourne, damages were mostly minor, except for a tree that fell across several cars in the city’s south. At the MCG in Richmond, players and spectators sought shelter during the Geelong-Hawthorn game’s final quarter due to severe weather and lightning. The match resumed after a 42-minute delay.

The Stawell Gift, one of Australia’s esteemed running races, faced significant delays and challenges due to heavy rain and lightning strikes. Despite the adverse weather, the event proceeded after a two-hour delay, accommodating both competitors and 7000 spectators. Wild weather also affected north-western Victoria, disrupting the event and necessitating urgent power restoration efforts.

Organisers, stunned by the unprecedented weather, expressed astonishment at the conditions, complicating travel plans for thousands returning home at the Easter holiday break’s conclusion.

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