Australia Weather News

The view from Mount Ainslie, showing a distant Parliament House obscured by dust. - ABC

More than 6,000 Canberrans lost power on Tuesday and a health warning was issued due to strong winds that left the city covered in dust.

Evoenergy confirmed 6,500 people were affected by power outages in suburbs right across the city after the storm swept through early in the afternoon.

Emergency crews were at a number of sites around Canberra, working to restore power.

But due to the total fire ban in place, delays were being caused as safety patrols assessed the risk of power lines coming into contact with vegetation.

Works delivery branch manager Clinton McAlister said some parts of the city could be without power as late as 9:00pm AEDT.

"We're hoping that a majority of customers will be on over the next hour or so, but we do understand that there are a number of outages that have been caused by vegetation or trees coming into contact with a power line and for some customers that may extend into the night," Mr McAlister said.

Power lines were down in a number of suburbs, including at the Australian National University, and the capital's iconic landmarks were obscured by the heavy dust.

'I can see an accident happening'

In Yarralumla, Chichi Rojasrivaplata Winikerei said a power line was lying near to the road after it was knocked out by a falling tree about 4:00pm.

"Only worried if a kid walks along and touches it — lots of kids around here, hopefully they stay indoors," Ms Winikerei said.

"There are people driving on this street trying to avoid the branch and I can see an accident happening soon."

She said they were without power and would be looking for candles and torches ahead of nightfall.

The ACT Government warned dry conditions and strong winds meant dust particles were reducing air quality.

It issued a statement saying people with respiratory problems such as asthma and chronic lung diseases might experience difficulty breathing.

Canberrans were told to stay indoors, leave windows and doors closed, switch air-conditioners to recycle and avoid vigorous exercise outside.