Thunder, hail, rain loom for Highlands

Chickpea crops near Gindie were stripped bare during a severe hailstorm last Thursday.
Chickpea crops near Gindie were stripped bare during a severe hailstorm last Thursday.

HEAVY rain, thunderstorms and severe weather conditions are expected to lash the Central Highlands from tomorrow until Saturday, according to the latest Bureau of Meteorology forecast.

Most of the rain is expected to fall in the southern part of the Highlands, while the northern areas will experience more severe thunderstorms, with the possibility of hail, BOM senior forecaster Brian Rolstone said. The news will not be well-received by farmers.

Last Thursday night, a violent hail storm ripped through the Springsure and Rolleston area, with several properties between Emerald and the Golden Triangle farming communities suffering unwelcomed crop damage.

Jack Buffington of Fernlees, just south of Gindie, saw damage to his chickpea crop after relentless hail left countless seeds strewn on the wet ground come Friday morning.

"We would be hoping for an extra two or three weeks of dry weather," Mr Buffington said.

"We won't really know how much was lost until we start harvesting. But more rain is certainly an extra worry."

Bill Daniels, who has a late harvest wheat crop in the ground just up the road from Fernlees, was lucky to escape the wrath of Thursday's storm. But the prospect of more rain doesn't sit well with his upcoming harvesting plans.

"I hate to think what it could mean, a downgrading in quality for the first thing," Mr Daniels said.

Mr Rolstone said thunderstorms are expected to form in the southern parts of the Highlands tomorrow afternoon.

"These thunderstorms will then merge into thundery rains, which cover a much larger area… they should clear by Friday morning," Mr Rolstone said. "But then it is expected to form up again in the southern parts on Friday afternoon, with more extensive rain flowing into Saturday.

"Some parts may get 60mm, but it is more likely that most will be in the 30-50mm range."

He said while the northern parts of the Highlands won't get as much rain, probably under 20mm in most areas, there is stronger possibility of severe thunderstorms in the area, with the prospect of hail tomorrow afternoon.

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