Severe thunderstorm warning issued for the Latrobe Valley

Gregor Mactaggart

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for damaging winds and heavy rainfall across an area including the Latrobe Valley.

Released at 3.53pm today, the warning is for people in North East, West and South Gippsland and parts of East Gippsland, Northern Country and North Central Forecast Districts.

The BOM said severe thunderstorms are likely to produce damaging winds and heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding in the warning area over the next several hours.

Locations which may be affected include Traralgon as a major centres such as Shepparton, Wodonga, Wangaratta, Sale and Bairnsdale.

A moist and unstable air mass has extended across much of the state today.

The State Emergency Service advises that people should:

* Be aware that trees that have been damaged by heat or fire may be unstable and more likely to fall when it is windy or wet.

* Be aware that in fire affected areas, rainfall run-off into waterways may contain debris such as ash, soil, trees and rocks.

* Be alert that in areas recently affected by fires, heavy rainfall increases the potential for landslides and debris across roads.

* Check that loose items such as outdoor settings, umbrellas and trampolines are safely secured and move vehicles under cover or away from trees.

* Stay indoors and away from windows.

* If outdoors, move to a safe place indoors. Stay away from trees, drains, gutters, creeks and waterways.

* If driving conditions are dangerous, safely pull over away from trees, drains, low-lying areas and floodwater. Avoid travel if possible.

* Stay safe by avoiding dangerous hazards, such as floodwater, mud, debris, damaged roads and fallen trees.

* Stay away from fallen powerlines always assume they are live.

* Stay informed monitor weather warnings, forecasts and river levels at the Bureau of Meteorology website, and warnings through VicEmergency.

The next warning is due to be issued by 6:55 pm.