Stormageddon rises: Hail, destructive storms ‘way of future’

Giant hail that battered southeast Queensland last week has measured equal in size to the biggest to ever fall in Australia and experts warn it might be the start of a severe storm season.

University of Queensland academics are collecting stored hail from the deluge, to study it, to better understand extreme weather events.

RACQ has processed some 5000 insurance claims relating to last weekend's storms alone - including almost 3000 motor vehicle claims.

Giant hail smashed into Springfield Lakes last week causing extensive damage to homes and vehicles. Picture: Liz Laenger
Giant hail smashed into Springfield Lakes last week causing extensive damage to homes and vehicles. Picture: Liz Laenger

 

"(Last) Saturday was quite an extraordinary event we equalled the national record for hail diameter … 14cm," UQ Atmospheric science PhD candidate Jordan Brook said.

"There were a few stones measured around that mark … south of Brisbane."

Those stones and others have been collected by UQ scientists, including Mr Brook, as part of a weather study.

"We cut (hail) in half using a hot wire then we look at the growth rings inside," Mr Brook said.

"That gives us information as to the moisture content and the temperature in the cloud."

"We're looking to build up a better idea of what the ingredients are that are required to grow these really giant hail stones … to try and tell, 'this cell is the most dangerous because it's got the ingredients required to grow large or giant hail'."

 

Kathy and Peter Morcus were among hundreds of Springfield Lakes residents counting the cost of a supercell storm.
Kathy and Peter Morcus were among hundreds of Springfield Lakes residents counting the cost of a supercell storm.

 

USQ climate scientist Professor Roger Stone said last week's "fickle" weather could be a "sign of things to come".

"It's very changeable through the spring time … it's not unusual to see a swing from storm to heatwaves … all within a week," he said.

Prof Stone said climate modelling showed a high probability of above average rainfall over the final months of 2020.

"About a 70 per cent chance … that's mostly composed of thunderstorm activity over the next month or so, and switching to more general rain activity as we get further into summer," he said.

"We have to learn to live better with hailstorms than we have been.

"Thunderstorms and hailstorms are Australia's biggest insurance loss."

 

Weather experts are predicting more destructive thunderstorms and hailstorms across southeast Queensland. Picture: Anthony Cornelius
Weather experts are predicting more destructive thunderstorms and hailstorms across southeast Queensland. Picture: Anthony Cornelius

 

 

While the Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a dry coming week for Brisbane, Meteorologist Jonty Hall suggested Brisbane's "luck" with extreme weather may be used up, with places like Townsville, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast bearing the brunt in the past couple of years.

"Brisbane has dodged a lot of severe weather as compared to the rest of the state over the years," Mr Hall told The Courier-Mail.

"With these ongoing conditions, as well as the La Niña conditions may make those types of weather systems appear more often around the south east."

 

Originally published as Stormageddon rises: Giant hail, destructive storms 'way of future'


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