SNOWED IN: Travellers stuck as power outages plague Tassie
POLICE and road workers last night worked in bitterly cold conditions to free dozens of Tasmanian motorists stranded on highways due to snow and ice.
About 40 vehicles became stranded in snowy conditions on the Midland Highway at Spring Hill on Tuesday afternoon.
Twenty motorists were freed a short time later while officers worked with road grader operators into Tuesday night to rescue the remaining 20, police said.
While there were dozens of vehicles assisted after becoming stranded at elevated locations, no injuries were reported. Most people sat in their cars to ride out the storm.
"It is extremely lucky that there were no serious injury crashes in the conditions on the roads this afternoon and evening," Inspector Brett Barry said.
The Ross Motel was still trying to sort out beds for travellers late on Tuesday and Peter Fost said he'd had to turn people away as there was just no room.
"They'll probably have to sleep in their cars," he said.
The Oatlands RSL opened its doors to help people while on the East Coast, accommodation at Orford quickly filled up as travellers could not make it through to Hobart.
There were also long delays on the Huon Highway due to treacherous conditions, particularly at the high point of Vince's Saddle.
Further in the South, Tasmania Police said officers also conducted a search for a vessel which issued a distress call about 8pm.
The vessel, with one man on board, was reported to have struck rocks south of Southport and was sinking when the distress call was made. No injuries were reported from the incident.
Lightning strikes caused power outages at thousands of homes across the state Tuesday afternoon.
Power outages also caused traffic light disruptions on central Hobart streets including Elizabeth and Burnett streets.
With snow down to 200m yesterday, Tasmania Police issued advice to motorists advising of worsening road conditions.
Several road closures were set up throughout Tuesday including at the Tasman Highway from Fingerpost Road, Orielton to Buckland, the Huon Highway from Sandfly Intersection to Grove and the Lyell Highway - Tarraleah to Mt Arrowsmith.
The Midland Highway was not expected to be open before midnight on Tuesday , meaning Wednesday print editions of the Mercury would not be able to make it to the state's North.
TasNetworks operations leader Jason King said the major southern power outage was caused by a lightning strike to a power pole at Augusta Rd about 5.45pm on Tuesday.
He said it was uncommon to see lightning strike in urban areas but said crews were able to reconnect power within two hours.
Mr King said the East Coast outage, caused by a transmission fault, could have likely kept power off at East Coast homes overnight.
Damaging winds averaging 60 to 70 km/h with peak gusts of 90 to 100 km/h were expected at parts of the east and southeast of the state across last night.
Originally published as SNOWED IN: Travellers stuck as power outages plague state