TASMANIANS embarked on a massive clean-up effort yesterday after hurricane-force winds caused damage around the state costing millions.

Homes were left without roofs, major roads were blocked by fallen trees and power lines, boats broke their moorings and debris littered the streets as winds of up to 176km/h stormed through in a wild-weather blitzkrieg.

The damage bill is estimated at $2 million and is expected to climb.

Police, firies, state emergency service volunteers and council clean-up crews hit the streets as early as 1am yesterday, helping families whose homes were pummelled by the unforgiving, violent winds.

Between 1am and 5am SES volunteers attended 100 jobs and the number grew to 238 by midday.

Hobart's Eastern Shore was worst hit where winds peaked at 176km/h at Droughty Point, near Rokeby, at 4am - one of the highest wind gusts ever recorded in Tasmania.

Gales in Hobart peaked at 128km/h, while on Mt Wellington they reached 146km/h.

More than 40,000 homes lost power, and blackouts and road closures forced several schools to close.

Tourist attractions including Hobart's Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens and Dismal Swamp in the North-West were closed, and public parks and gardens were strewn with fallen tree limbs.

A busy Cambridge caravan park was evacuated after roofs blew off and a tree crushed one caravan.

Traffic lights failed, causing traffic jams on major highways. Fallen power lines closed the Tasman Highway between the airport roundabout and Midway Point between 6am-8am, frustrating peak-hour drivers who were diverted through Richmond.

Rough seas and high winds closed Sorell Causeway, adding to disruptions in the area.

Lenah Valley Rd, Grass Tree Hill Rd and Huon Rd were closed because of fallen trees and power lines.

The roof blew off the former Ellison Hawker Newsagency in Liverpool St, which was damaged in last year's Myer fire, and one lane of traffic was blocked while a crane retrieved it.

Aurora said power lines were down in about 200 spots around the state, cutting power to more than 40,000 homes and businesses - most in southern Tasmania.

About 36,000 customers lost power in Bellerive, Flagstaff Gully, Midway Point, Geilston Bay, Sorell, New Norfolk, Triabunna, Rokeby, Kingston, Sandy Bay, Moonah, Lenah Valley, Glenorchy, Richmond and the Tasman Peninsula.

In the North and North-West about 5000 homes lost power.

There were at least five reports of power lines falling over cars in the South, but no one was injured.

By early afternoon power was restored to all but 500 southern customers.

Aurora incident controller Rod Wright said more than 2000 jobs were logged during the day, with more than 30,000 calls to the fault centre.

Twenty-eight crews worked in the South and 12 in the North.

Several schools, including Hobart College and Lindisfarne North Primary, closed because of power cuts.

Those that did open reported low attendances, and some schools were short on teachers.

Clean-ups were needed at many schools to remove fallen trees and debris.

SES regional manager Geoff Marsh said it was busy for SES workers and distressing for many homeowners.

"The fact that no one got seriously hurt is amazing," he said.

He said the chaos began at 1am and continued. At least 62 calls were about severely damaged roofs and at least 14 were for trees that fell on houses.

Tasmania Fire Service attended many false alarm calls set off by the winds and marine police responded to cases of boats dragging their moorings.

After-hours insurance hotlines were bombarded as victims rushed to make claims for wind and water damage.

RACT Insurance chief executive Ralph Doedens said assessors worked all night on emergency calls, which ranged from roofs blowing off to trampolines crashing into cars.

By 10.30am there had been 200 claims worth over $350,000. This grew to 500 claims worth $800,000 by 4pm, and it was expected to reach $1.2 million.

AAMI Tasmania executive manager Trent Sayers said over 400 claims had been made and he expected the AAMI pay-out figure to hit $1 million.

Fresh westerly winds are expected today, easing over the weekend.