‘Killer ice’ hailstones falling at over 60mph wreck planes and windshields
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Hailstones “as big as coconuts” falling at speeds of over 60mph have severely damaged aircraft and cars as unprecedented storms have swept across Australia.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology [BOM] said severe hail and wind gusting at over 75 miles per hour had been recorded near the city of Mackay in Queensland.
BOM meteorologist Shane Kennedy said: “We’ve seen some convincing images of hail up against a tape measure of 16cm.
“The Australian record was sitting around the 14cm mark. It does look like it’s an Australian record for hail."
He added that hailstones of that size would have fallen at speeds in excess of 63mph.
While a new record for giant hail was established yesterday, the previous record was only a year old suggesting that the climate in Australia is getting worse.
The BOM Tweeted: “Yesterday's 16cm hail in Yalboroo, Queensland is a new Australian record. The previous record was 14cm, observed in south-east [Queensland] last year. The atmosphere was extremely unstable, which allowed hail to continue growing before gravity forced it to the ground.”
North Queensland Airports CEO Richard Barker told ABC News that the 75mph winds at Mackay airport were the most severe in the 14 years they have been recording.
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In the Queensland town of Yalboroo, just north of Mackay, organisers of a community Facebook group warned locals to take shelter as "life threatening" six-inch hailstones rained down.
One local, Christopher Harvey, told ABC News that the hailstones had smashed his car’s windscreen and he’d had to pull over for safety’s sake.
A shopping centre in Coffs Harbour, on the north coast of New South Wales, had to be evacuated after hail and rain caused part of its roof to collapse.
Several photos and videos posted to the Higgins Storm Chasing Facebook page showed the damage caused to cars and solar panels by the super-sized hailstones.
One member of the group, Ian Leeson, described the massive hailstones as “killer ice,” predicting: “Get hit in the head with one of those travelling at terminal velocity and you won’t survive.”
While the danger to life and limb is largely avoidable, the property damage is not. Last year the Halloween hailstorm that struck Ipswich in Queensland caused over a billion Australian dollars’ worth of damage.
- Climate Change
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