'Ferocious and frightening'
WITH pets terrified, trees ripped from the ground and some areas of Emerald pelted with golf ball-sized hailstones, the weekend's severe storm activity was enough to prove summer has well and truly arrived on the Central Highlands.
Heavy wind gusts and soaking rain was enough to blow debris and trees around and make a mess of the town, but out on Wills Rd, Nicole and Dion Brownlie copped the worst of the storms.
"On Saturday we had trees down, the shed roof blown off, golf ball-sized hail and really massive winds," Nicole said.
"Our outdoor toilet was also on its roof."
Nicole said she and Dion were quite lucky their cotton crops were spared the worst of the wind and hail, but she couldn't say the same for their neighbour.
"Our crops weren't hit too badly because they are about 3km down the road," she said.
"There's not many leaves left on our neighbour's cotton crops."
With a 15-month-old daughter, Ava, Nicole said the ferocity of the storm was "quite frightening" for the little one.
"The hail was actually hitting the glass windows above Ava's cot, so I had to get her out of there pretty quick," she said.
"We also have a dog who snapped his chain and took shelter under the house."
Nicole said their rain gauge recorded falls of about 37mm on Saturday, but that it was hard to tell because a lot of it was hail.
"Hail actually went right through our rain gauge and smashed it, so it was pretty fierce," she said.
"We have had a couple of quite severe storms over the past couple of years, this one was pretty up there with the nasty ones. We must be in a bit of a target zone."
After tidying up the fallen trees and debris, Nicole said it happened all over again on Sunday, however not as ferociously.
Bureau of Meteorology severe weather forecaster Tony Auden said the maximum wind gust recorded in Emerald was at the airport on Saturday at 2pm with a reading of 78kmh.
The strongest wind gust on record for the region was Biloela at 98kmh.
"The radar did show some pretty nasty storms," Mr Auden said.
"It's not very often we see storms on the radar so early in the morning of that intensity. They are less frequent than later in the afternoon."
Mr Auden said while we could generally expect to see some pretty ferocious storms in the early weeks of summer, we could expect mainly rain events towards the end of the season.
He said last year's La Nina event which resulted in flooding across much of the state was one of the strongest on record, but that this year the Central Highlands could expect "fairly close to average rainfall," Mr Auden said.
"Flooding is possible anywhere, but it should be less widespread than last year."
And while Christmas Day is too far away to forecast at this stage, Mr Auden said the Central Highlands could expect more rain at least until Friday.
"We are looking at the possibility of showers and thunderstorms over the next two days, but they should ease on Friday," he said.