SYDNEY: Severe thunderstorms battered parts of eastern Australia on Saturday (Dec 30), bringing heavy rain, giant hail and strong winds, days after another storm hit the region over the Christmas holidays.
A wild weather system is forecast to stretch more than 1,000km from Port Macquarie in the state of New South Wales to Rockhampton in Queensland, with southeastern Queensland expected to bear the force of the storm
“We’re now entering another active period of thunderstorms,” David Grant, forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, said during a press conference. “There is potential for further isolated, very dangerous thunderstorms.”
Some places picked up about 110mm of rain, roughly a month’s total, in two hours on Saturday morning, while hailstones as big as 6cm were also spotted. The bad weather is likely to continue into the new year.
Two people were taken to hospital after lightning hits, one while inside a car and the other on an excavator.
The storms follow severe weather on Dec 25 and Dec 26 that killed 10 people and knocked out power for tens of thousands of homes across the east, and after Cyclone Jasper earlier this month caused widespread flooding and damage.
Australia’s December to February summer is under the impact of the El Nino phenomenon, which can cause weather extremes ranging from wildfires to cyclones and prolonged droughts.
About 28,000 properties are still without power and the new storms will hamper reconnection efforts, Queensland state Premier Steven Miles told reporters.
As Queensland suffers its second major storm in a week, an intense heatwave was sweeping across Australia’s north and west. Temperatures in Marble Bar, a remote old mining town in the northwest of the state of Western Australia, are set to touch 49 degrees Celsius on Saturday.
But mild weather is expected for the southeast, including Sydney, on Sunday as Australia’s biggest city gears up for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to good harbourside spots to watch the famous fireworks that ring in the new year.