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Northern Network News: 1995/96
by Gordon Garradd

Quite a few hailstorms were reported during the season, the most severe producing giant hailstones 9cm across in late December in the Northern Rivers district. The Northern Tablelands centre of Inverell suffered a huge damage bill in October when a large hailstorm moved across town, smashing many windows, denting cars and house rooves, and killing many birds as they tried to escape the storm. December was the month of most severe hail activity, although large hail was recorded right through Spring and Summer, and the last hail over 2cm was in May. The storms in late December produced very heavy rainfall/flash flooding and high winds as well as the giant hail. An interesting storm on October 27th in the Moonbi/Kootingal district North East of Tamworth was particularly slow moving, which is unusual for a hailstorm. One report was of hail falling for 75 minutes, building up to 7cm deep. This caused extensive orchard damage, and one orchardist using netting to protect against hail saw it all collapse under the huge weight of hailstones. 80mm of rainfall was recorded, but the true figure is unknown as hail overflowed the gauge for some time. Hail drifts were still in shaded areas 2 days later.

The most spectacular case of very heavy rainfall occurred in the Cuttabri district on February 2nd, with 182mm being recorded in 180 minutes. Because the region is flat the event was more of an inconvenience than damaging, however this type of slow moving heavy precipitation storm could have devastating consequences had it been over a mountainous region.

A number of centres suffered extensive wind damage over Spring and Summer, particularly on the North West Slopes where Gunnedah and Werris Creek had many houses damaged on more than one occasion. Other towns including Willow Tree and Quirindi also had houses unroofed. The city of Dubbo had many houses damaged and unroofed in February in a storm that was accompanied by huge clouds of dust blowing off the plains to the West.

The most interesting storm I observed was on December 27. This storm, most probably a supercell, maintained a distinct lowered base under the updraught for the entire period I watched it (over 1 hour) with a column of rapidly rising cloud reaching to the ground for much of this time. No strong rotation was obvious, but apart from the lack of rotation it resembled a strong tornado and I was able to take some spectacular photos. As the storm approached hail started falling and I drove North a few km to find hailstones up to 35mm diameter covering the ground. This hail swath covered a small valley completely right up to the tops of the hills surrounding it. As I watched the creek slowly rise due to the accompanying 25mm of rainfall I could hear a loud roaring sound coming from up the creek, and a few minutes later a large rush of hail and water came thundering across the road. Nearby residents appeared to check out the scene as half a metre of hail and water, 10 metres across rushed across the road. But the show was not over, as the sun set behind the hill to the west a dense fog formed and began flowing down the valley. The hail cover on the ground had cooled the valley air to about 5 degrees causing the fog to condense out of the humid air, a most unusual event considering the temperature had been in the high 20's a short time earlier.

Document: 9603-02.htm
Updated: 6th April, 2004
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