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Severe storms to bring elevated asthma risk for Victoria

The nation’s southeast is set to be hit by more severe storms and heavy rainfall bringing an elevated risk of ‘thunderstorm asthma’ to Victoria.A high to moderate risk of epidemic thunderstorm asthma has been forecast for western and central Victoria on Wednesday as a high pollen count combines with potentially severe thunderstorms and strong winds.The…

The nation’s southeast is set to be hit by more severe storms and heavy rainfall bringing an elevated risk of ‘thunderstorm asthma’ to Victoria.

A high to moderate risk of epidemic thunderstorm asthma has been forecast for western and central Victoria on Wednesday as a high pollen count combines with potentially severe thunderstorms and strong winds.

The storm can further whip up grass pollen, causing a large number of people to suffer asthma symptoms at the same time.

In November 2016, a severe thunderstorm in Victoria caused thousands of people to have a sudden asthma attack, causing chaos for the state’s emergency services and hospitals.

The danger will be high in the Mallee, Wimmera and southwest forecast districts and moderate in Melbourne, central and Northern Country regions.

Those at risk – people with current, past or undiagnosed asthma or hay fever – have been urged to avoid exposure to any storms and wind gusts that may emerge and to have a reliever appropriately available.

It comes as a significant cold front is expected to bring a “peak thunderstorm” day across Victoria on Wednesday with damaging winds and heavy rainfall forecast to hit western and central regions.

The weather bureau has said severe weather warnings are likely to be issued throughout the day.

“These thunderstorms are likely to develop about the west during the late morning and early afternoon and then that system will move through into the central districts during the early evening reaching Melbourne around 7pm,” senior forecaster Chris Arvier said.

“The storms are likely to be severe so we are expecting to see some damaging winds and heavy rainfall with these storms as they come through and we’ll be issuing warnings for those when we see them develop during the day.”

Temperatures across the state on Tuesday will reach between 8C and 12C above the average for November with a “very warm” night before the cool change hits on Wednesday.

Falls of up to 10mm are possible across the state on Wednesday.

The storms have already hit Kangaroo Island, the Eyre and Yorke peninsulas in South Australia on Tuesday with heavy rainfall and wind gusts of up to 83km/h already recorded at Cleve and Minlaton.

It will also be hot in Hobart on Wednesday with a top of 30C and late showers forecast, while the storms expected to push into eastern parts of New South Wales and the ACT on Thursday and Friday.

Sky News Meteorologist Rob Sharpe said 5 to 15mm of rain was possible over the next eight days in parts of the Great Dividing Ranges in NSW and heavier falls of 15 to 25mm in western Victoria and up to 50mm on the west coast of Tasmania.

jack.paynter@news.com.au

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