HAIL STORM: Sky opens up and belts Parliament House

 

A fierce storm has pelted Canberra with icy hailstones the size of golf balls as Sydney braces for an afternoon of wild weather.

The ACT Emergency Services Agency received more than 220 calls for help after the storm which lasted about 15 minutes early on Monday afternoon.

 

The lawn outside Parliament House has been pelted by hail. Picture: Instagram
The lawn outside Parliament House has been pelted by hail. Picture: Instagram

The State Emergency Service, Fire and Rescue and Rural Fire Service are responding to hail and roof damage, electrical threats and localised flooding. ACT Ambulance Service is attending to two people with minor injuries sustained during the storm.

Golf ball-sized hail. Picture: Mick Tsikas
Golf ball-sized hail. Picture: Mick Tsikas

Power lines have come down leading to outages, according to reports, while the grounds of Parliament House look like it has been snowing.

Car windscreens have been smashed at Old Parliament House, the Australian National University and other parts of the city.

Inspecting the scene … Picture: Mick Tsikas
Inspecting the scene … Picture: Mick Tsikas

Animals were injured during the damaging storm, with parliament staff looking after a bloodied crow that copped a hailstone to its head.

The Bureau of Meteorology is warning that "large, possibly giant" hailstones and heavy rainfall could lash the east coast of NSW in a matter of hours.

A severe thunderstorm warning for damaging winds and large hailstones was issued for Sydney, the Blue Mountains/Hawkesbury, Maitland/Cessnock, Gosford/Wyong and Wollondilly/Wingecarribee around 2pm on Monday.

"There is a very dangerous thunderstorm near Dungog, moving to the southeast towards the Port Stephens area at approximately 60 km/hr. This storm may have locally destructive wind gusts and possibly giant hail," the Bureau said.

Hail piling up outside the windows of Parliament House. Picture: Instagram
Hail piling up outside the windows of Parliament House. Picture: Instagram

Fire danger is high in northern NSW, with total fire bans in place for a number of regions.

The forecast comes after a week of wet weather, with parts of NSW recording upwards of 100mm - the heaviest rainfall since September. Sydney alone has received 90mm in the past week.

A Canberra white wonderland … Picture: Instagram
A Canberra white wonderland … Picture: Instagram

Rainy conditions are set to persist tomorrow before finer conditions push through the state on Wednesday ahead of hot and windy weather and potential increased fire danger on Thursday.

The storms follows huge dust storms swallowing up large swathes of the Central West slopes and plains on Sunday afternoon.

A massive dust storm rolls into Canowindra, near Orange, in NSW. Picture: Jamie Anderson
A massive dust storm rolls into Canowindra, near Orange, in NSW. Picture: Jamie Anderson

A severe thunderstorm warning for damaging winds, heavy rain and hailstones was issued for the region by the Bureau of Meteorology around 6:20pm before the dust storms impacted areas including Tottenham, Tullamore, Dubbo and Parkes.

Damien Garro who manages the Station Motel in Parkes said that the approaching wall of orange cloud looked 'apocalyptic' before it hit the small town for almost 30 minutes.

"It was like 3am in the morning, it was so dark," Mr Garro said.

Social media images show a huge dust storm rolling towards Parkes. Picture: Instagram
Social media images show a huge dust storm rolling towards Parkes. Picture: Instagram

"We had a guest check in where mud had rained all over the vehicle. We've had a few storms lately but it was so thick we couldn't see across the road to the mobile phone tower across from us."

Mr Notara said that strong wind activity had stirred up parched topsoil from the drought-affected area, 'ingesting' the dust into thunderstorms in the area.

"The main reason we have exacerbated dust storms at the moment is due to drought conditions," Mr Notara said.

Social media images show a huge dust storm rolling towards Parkes. Picture: Instagram
Social media images show a huge dust storm rolling towards Parkes. Picture: Instagram

"Once topsoil gets deficient in moisture it crumbles more easily. Gusty winds allow for dust to be lifted into the clouds, which may then fall as mud."

Parkes recorded 14.4mm of rain due to the wild weather, but without more rainfall dust storms like these may continue, Mr Notara said.

"Until we see adequate rainfall in large areas inland, we will see dust events continue to feature," he said.



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