Destructive tornado, tennis-ball-sized hail hit Queensland, Australia

A severe thunderstorm hit parts of Queensland, Australia on October 11, 2018, producing a destructive tornado and dumping heavy rain and extremely damaging, up to tennis-ball-sized hail. The hardest hit was South Burnett where authorities are still determining whether the region should be declared a disaster zone. Numerous homes and cars were damaged and entire crops destroyed right before harvest time.

About 1 000 households have made insurance claims, according to the Insurance Council of Australia. Nearly 100 mm (3.93 inches) of rain well on some parts of the state after 09:00 local time and hailstones up to 10 cm in diameter. Queensland SES responded to more than 360 calls for help.

As the weather bureau issued warning after warning, rain poured across Brisbane and the southeast and winds and hail did vast damage in a belt from Kingaroy to Gympie and on to Maryborough and south of Bundaberg, the Courier Mail reports.

The tornado hit Tansey about 15:12 local time, carving a narrow trail of destruction as it headed for the coast.

“We were right in the center of the tornado,” one of the residents said. “It lasted for about 15 minutes and it was quite scary.”

She said storm chaser, Jeff Higgins, took shelter in their shed while he was broadcasting live to Facebook during the tornado.

Thomas Hinterdorfer, from Higgins Storm Chasing, said they had received reports of up to three different tornadoes on October 11.

Hinterdorfer said Tansey was right in the middle of a very narrow path. “There is immense destruction in Tansey,” he said.

The storm caused substantial damage to crops in the region, right before harvest time. “It’s going to affect a fair bit of Christmas produce throughout this area,” grower Terry O’Leary told ABC Brisbane, referring to fruit supplies.

“They’ve been completely written off, the unfortunate side as well is that horticultural crops aren’t insurable for hail in Australia as of yet, so this is a complete hit for our business, and we certainly aren’t the only ones affected, it’s pretty widespread.”

“A lot of farmers were getting ready to pick their crops… and this will be a massive setback,” State Opposition Leader and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said.

Featured image: Tansey tornado, Queensland, Australia on October 11, 2018. Credit: tomgjj

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