Several suburbs in northwestern Canberra were hit by a devastating hailstorm on the afternoon of the 3rd January 2022. Developing just south of Canberra, the storm, likely a supercell, intensified and tracked north through the suburbs of Belconnen on the eastern fringe, Holt to the west, Hall to the north and host of other suburbs. Hailstones with severe winds fell across the suburbs collapsing branches and damaging countless hundreds of vehicles. Although predictive radar did indicate possible storm tracks, instability along a boundary likely intensified the storm tracking along the boundary. Another likely supercell also impacted regions further south later but in mountainous terrain.
A preliminary map of the damage path and radar has been provided for your perusal.
Supercell hailstorm with extreme lightning and giant hailstones
Supercell Hailstorm. On the 3rd December 2016, a major supercell developed under extreme instability in northern NSW. The storm then crossed the border and dumped significant sized hailstones at Rathdowney. During this phase, the storm was extremely lightning active with lightning produced from the anvil as well as near and in the core. Two trees were struck by lightning observed captured on video.
It was a very spectacular supercell storm in its large size and very active lightning observed as well as giant hailstones. The storm was slow moving allowing for the relatively rare opportunity to chase in New South Wales and southern Queensland.
Hailstorm Drifts: Sydney was hit by several hailstorms on ANZAC day with hail covering roads and lawns as well as roofs as hail fell in drifts in some suburbs. A factory in Huntingwood collapsed under the weight of the hailstones. Traffic in the region was diverted. A comination of heavy rainfall and melting hailstones caused flash flooding across the area.
This particular hailstorm developed over the St Marys region. Storms had developed well to the west over the Blue Mountains and hail drifts had occurred in those regions. Storm chasers Jimmy Deguara and Harley Pearman were in pursuit of the earlier storm over the Blue Mountains earlier. Once in the Eastern Creek area, they noticed a large rain free base. This ominous base became the focus and not long after rain began to fall followed by hailstones to 1.5cm in diameter.
The storm chasers repositioned to be closer to the core of the thunderstorm. A phone call alerted Jimmy of a hailstorm near St Marys. Finally at the intersection of the Great Western Highway, the extent of the hailstorm became clear! It was the beginning of the hail drifts.
Turning right onto the highway introduced extensive hail drifts. The hail was still falling and pure hailstones as well. The scene looked like snow! Only car tracks showed where the road was with hail drifts approaching 15 to 20cm in depth!
The hails swathe was about 5km wide and oriented generally south of east. The extent of the most damaging hailstones were in the Huntingwood area. Several factories had their roofs collapse at the height of the storm. Very heavy rainfall and flash flooding occurred with this storm. The melting hailstones also added to the problems.