Violent thunderstorms hit Queensland with hurricane-force winds

Violent thunderstorms hit Queensland with hurricane-force winds

A violent storm, described as one of the worst to hit the region in a decade, hit eastern Queensland, Australia on November 7, 2017, with hurricane-force winds, heavy rain and large hailstones. Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said the severity of the winds was something he had never seen before. 

The storm hit the region Tuesday afternoon with five severe storm cells on the radar at one point, winds reaching up to 150 km/h (93 mph) and hailstones up to 5 cm (1.96 inches).

"Bundaberg was left reeling after a supercell hit the city late in the afternoon, bringing down large trees and causing minor structural damage to buildings. A wind gust of 98 km/h (38 mph) was recorded at the airport and the storm produced 22 mm (0.86 inches) of rain in 10 minutes. The abrupt downpour caused the temperature to drop by 7 °C (12.6 °F) in five minutes," Ben Domensino of Weatherzone said, adding that Bundaberg's total of 39 mm (1.53 inches) is close to half a month's worth of rain for this time of year.

Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said the severity of the winds was something he had never seen before. "People normally expect the winds to come from one angle but it came from every angle with this one. It was like being in a tumble drier," he told AAP today.

Winds managed to down an iconic, 100-year-old fig tree near fire station on Woongarra Street. The tree fell on a car with two people inside, but they managed to escape without any serious injuries.

"There's just so much vegetation down right across the region," Dempsey said. "We've had two really severe weather events recently and it's softened the soil up. With the severe wind gusts yesterday, the trees just buckled."

Video courtesy Austin Hunter

At the peak of the storm, 26 500 homes were without power, Ergon Energy said, adding that it would 'probably be the worst storm in the Wide Bay region in about 10 years.' By Wednesday afternoon, power was restored to 15 000 homes. 

The storm in Bundaberg lasted some 30 minutes and was the city's 3rd major severe weather event in 2 months.

Another particularly intense storm produced large hail, flooding rain and wind gusts to 107 km/h (42 mph) as it moved from the ranges west of Noosa towards Rainbow Beach, Domensino added. "Hail flattened tents and covered the beach in ice."

The heaviest rain from Tuesday's storms occurred on the Sunshine Coast and Noosa Hinterland areas, where Cooran received 80 mm (3.15 inches) and Kandanga 77 mm (3.03 inches).

More potentially severe storms are expected in the region in the days ahead.

Featured image: Supercell approaching Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia on November 7, 2017. Credit: Austin Hunter

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