Australian hailstorm losses already hit A$320m, set to rise further

Image Rebecca Ward

Image Rebecca Ward

A "merry-go-round" of extreme weather was hampering efforts by firefighters in Australia to tackle unprecedented bushfires that have killed at least 29 people and devastated vast swathes of the country.

Australia's southeast has already had to deal with the bad effects of historic bushfires and huge clouds of smoke. The Southern part of the State witnessed devastating winds that morphed into dust storms resulting in the lowered measure of the rainfall subsequently.

Monday's ferocious hailstorm that pelted Canberra in a 30-minute frenzy of wild weather has wiped out years of CSIRO research.

This handout photo taken on January 17, 2020 and received on January 20 courtesy of Marcia Macmillan shows a dust storm in Mullengudgery in New South Wales.

A hailstorm in the national capital Canberra damaged public buildings, businesses, houses and cars on Monday, interrupted some suburbs, fell trees, caused flash floods and injured two people, rescue workers said.

Torrential rain, storms and hailstones hit Melbourne, while the heavy downpours also lashed parts of New South Wales and Queensland.

Videos posted to social media showed dust storms descending on Dubbo and nearby towns that were so thick they blocked out the sun. The bureau warned that the cities could see "damaging winds (possibly destructive), large hailstones (possibly giant) and heavy rainfall".

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Some wintry mix could be caught on the tail end of the moisture, but it will not be much, and accumulation is not expected. Temperatures will climb back up to normal on Wednesday , which will be sunny with a high of 37 and a low of 19.

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Dust and ash from the Ravine fire on Kangaroo Island is also affecting visibility on the island's roads, the Country Fire Service (CFS) said.

As Australia takes stock of what it lost in the epic fires, some forests and other key habitats may not fully recover.

"This dust storm was pretty similar to what we call an atmospheric gravity current".

He said: "Ultimately, we need to remain vigilant".

A woman named Hilary Wardhaugh, who was at the National Library of Australia when the hail began to come down, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation it was an "unbelievable" sight.

Despite the fires, Australians are encouraging tourists to return to the country, after it was estimated that the disaster has cost Australia around AUS$1bn (£529 million).

In what he described to AFP as a "snowball effect", farmers will need to buy extra feed, re-seed burned paddocks and - perhaps most worryingly - the stress will make animals less likely to conceive, the expert said. "We're just trying to get over what we've experienced on New Year's Eve and the weeks before and after", said Guy Chapman, general manager of Club Catalina, a golf club at Batemans Bay, 280 kms to Sydney's south.

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