Severe storms sweep through SE Queensland

Severe storms sweep through SE Queensland

Severe storms sweep through SE Queensland

Updated 18 November 2012, 19:47 AEDT

Dangerous thunderstorms are sweeping through south-east Queensland as residents in the region attempt to mop up after yesterday's wild weather that caused widespread damage.

The storm front hit the Brisbane CBD around 6:00pm AEST, and the Weather Bureau is continuing to issue severe thunderstorm warnings covering central and southern Queensland.

The Bureau is warning residents to expect destructive winds and heavy rainfall that could lead to flash flooding.

Follow our blog for live updates. All times in AEST:

6:43pm: Graham Metcalf from Energex says emergency crews are facing a busy evening, but cannot get to work until the lightning passes.

"It has been a very active storm afternoon. One of our key challenges is of course getting out there while these storms are going on," he said.

"Obviously our aim is to get the power back on as quickly and as safely as possible."

The number to call for downed power lines is 121 962. People wishing to report loss of power are asked to call 126 262.

Be careful though - remember not to use your phone during a lightning storm.

6:23pm: Daphne, who lives in the Brisbane suburb of Middle Park, told ABC 612 that her roof was damaged as the storm hit.

"I hadn't heard the Western Suburbs mentioned [in the storm warnings], but gee it certainly came through here about half an hour ago," she said.

"The hail was definitely bigger than a golf ball - I don't know if it was as big as a tennis ball, but it was definitely bigger than a golf ball."

6:16pm: The view from here in the office. Thanks to ABC reporter Josh Bavas.

6:07pm: Here is what the latest release from the Weather Bureau predicted for Brisbane residents. Read it here.

"The Bureau of Meteorology warns that, at 6:00 pm, severe thunderstorms were detected on weather radar near Brisbane CBD, Enoggera, Nudgee and Aspley. These thunderstorms are moving towards the north-east.

"They are forecast to affect Strathpine, Redcliffe, Rainbow Beach and Wide Bay by 6:30 pm and waters off Bribie Island, Double Is Point, Inskip and Inskip Point by 7:00 pm.

"Destructive winds, heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding and large hailstones are likely."

6:00pm: The weather bureau was spot on about when the storm would arrive - nearly 6:00pm on the dot.

The ABC building at South Bank is being hammered by hail as lightning breaks across the city.

5:53pm: Reports that concert goers have had to leave the Harvest Festival in the heart of the Brisbane CBD due to the severe weather expected.

5:50pm: A general severe thunderstorm warning is also current for the Wide Bay and Burnett, Darling Downs and Granite Belt, Southeast Coast and parts of the Central Highlands and Coalfields, Capricornia and Maranoa and Warrego districts.

5:45pm: The Weather Bureau issued a severe thunderstorm warning for communities on both the north and south coasts of New South Wales this afternoon.

Large hailstones and strong winds have been forecast for Batemans Bay, Eden, Bega and Moruya Heads in the south.

To the north, heavy rainfall may lead to flash flooding in parts of the Northern Rivers and Northern Tablelands, including Lismore, Murwillumbah, Casino, Kyogle, Tabulam and Rappville.

The NSW State Emergency Service is advising residents to prepare by securing loose items around their homes and staying away from fallen power lines and creeks.

Earlier today

Wind gusts of up to 90 kilometres per hour were reported at Double Island Point, while hail up to 6 centimetres in diameter has been reported throughout the region.

Senior Forecaster Jonty Hall says medium to large sized hail has been reported in at least five communities and townships.

"We have had large hail reported from a few places around the state," he said.

"At Caboolture we had a report of 3 centimetre hail, 4 centimetre hail at Jandowae on the Darling Downs and earlier two reports to three centimetres around the Yamanto area and recently we had a report of six centimetre hail at Biggenden in the Wide Bay area getting pretty close to cricket balls. So that certainly is damaging hail"

Swathe of destruction

Repairs are underway in Brisbane after the wild electrical storms ripped through the city yesterday, uprooting trees, causing blackouts, flash flooding and damage to homes and buildings.

There have been 66,000 power interruptions in the last 24 hours and a few hundred homes are still waiting for electricity to be restored.

Energex reports that there have been more than 33,000 lightning strikes the storms first hit.

The first severe cell swept through the region on Saturday morning, with a second line of storms passing overnight.

At Pittsworth and Millmerran on the Darling Downs there were reports of hail as big as golf balls and rockmelons.

Parts of Brisbane were hit with hail, while shops in the inner western suburb of Paddington were flooded.

Michaela Minx, the manager of the Kelvin Grove Markets in inner-city Brisbane, said tents and stalls were flattened.

"There was a lot of tents that were mangled and destroyed and a lot of stock that, as you can imagine, was ruined," she said.

"It was quite horrific. There was a lot of terrified people, [and] a lot of people were in shock because it did hit quite fast.

"We have had cars that have had trees fall over on top of them, so the severity was definitely there."

Windsor State School principal Stephen O'Kane said two buildings and one classroom were badly damaged by falling trees.

"Half of the building has structural damage and will need to be repaired," he said.

"Two buildings have got trees on top of them and also some of the magnificent trees that we've got have come down as well."

Emergency services received 127 calls for help in the last 24 hours. A spokeswoman says most of the calls involved leaking roofs.

Mr Otto says up to 40 millimetres of rain fell within half an hour in east Brisbane during last night's storm.

"The storms didn't have the structure or strength like the ones in the first wave that came across yesterday morning," he said.

"Totals have been up around 100mm in the Lockyer Valley [west of Brisbane] and generally in Brisbane 60-80mm."

Northern NSW destruction

In northern New South Wales the extreme weather destroyed at least one house and severely damaged a dozen others.

The village of Woodburn, south of Ballina, was hardest hit when the storm hit about 7:00pm AEDT last night.

In NSW, the SES has received at least 90 calls for help across the state's north.

It has been advised that power for about 2,000 properties could be out for up to 48 hours because major power lines have come down.

SES acting region controller Kaylene Jones says strong winds and hail wrought havoc.

"There are between 12 and 14 houses that we're aware of at this point in time that have substantial structural damage," she said.

"So that's either entire rooves have been taken off, some walls are blown out and damaged and so on.

"Those houses are quite uninhabitable. There is one house that's completely collapsed."

Authorities predict it could take several days to clean up after the severe storm.

Woodburn resident Stewart Rofe was in his house when it was destroyed by the storm.

"I was watching this storm come over and I said to the family, 'we're going to get a nasty one' - and it just got worse and worse and then the hail happened," he said.

"I can't believe it. The roof's two doors over, brand new roof ... in a tree. Missed the house next door. [The] house is gutted all the way through."

Another resident, Alison Smith, whose house was severely damaged, says it is lucky her family was out when the storm struck.

"I'd hate to think, my two girls and my husband, would have been probably severely injured. It basically tore our whole our whole roof off our house and debris everywhere. Yeah, nothing left inside our house, everything is gone," she said.