Storm gallery - hailstones, winds wreak havoc on Tamworth

A van parked in Whitehouse Lane was crushed by a falling tree during the violent storm. Photo: Barry Smith
A van parked in Whitehouse Lane was crushed by a falling tree during the violent storm. Photo: Barry Smith
Wind gusts of up to 95 km/hour blew out windows including those of Cathy Miller in Wilga Place. Photo: Barry Smith

Wind gusts of up to 95 km/hour blew out windows including those of Cathy Miller in Wilga Place. Photo: Barry Smith

High winds brought down branches in Arinya St, South Tamworth. Photo: Barry Smith

High winds brought down branches in Arinya St, South Tamworth. Photo: Barry Smith

A woman walks along Kable Ave as storm waters rise. Photo: Barry Smith

A woman walks along Kable Ave as storm waters rise. Photo: Barry Smith

Power went out across Tamworth and Somerton with police called in to direct traffic on major intersections across the city. Photo: Barry Smith

Power went out across Tamworth and Somerton with police called in to direct traffic on major intersections across the city. Photo: Barry Smith

Damage was reported to the roof of AELEC where winds ripped off part of the steel roof. Photo: Barry Smith

Damage was reported to the roof of AELEC where winds ripped off part of the steel roof. Photo: Barry Smith

Vehicles negotiate flooding on Goonoo Goonoo Rd. Photo: Barry Smith

Vehicles negotiate flooding on Goonoo Goonoo Rd. Photo: Barry Smith

A VIOLENT hailstorm that lasted only 20 minutes left a path of destruction across Tamworth and outlying areas when it hit just after 3pm yesterday. 

Emergency services were kept busy for hours after being inundated with calls from residents seeking help, with the Tamworth SES reporting more than 100 calls for assistance. 

The worst reports came from South Tamworth, where the storm caused a huge amount of damage in only a small amount of time and dumped 25mm of rain within an hour. 

Hailstones, in some places bigger than golf balls, damaged cars and smashed windows. 

Pic courtesy of Peter Langston.

Pic courtesy of Peter Langston.

Severe thunderstorms have hit Tamworth this afternoon, bringing large hailstones and cutting off power to residents. Pictured is the Tamworth CBD. Photo: Kitty Hill

Severe thunderstorms have hit Tamworth this afternoon, bringing large hailstones and cutting off power to residents. Pictured is the Tamworth CBD. Photo: Kitty Hill

Pic: Steph Worpel

Pic: Steph Worpel

Pic courtesy of Andrew Davies.

Pic courtesy of Andrew Davies.

Hailstones litter the Tamworth CBD as a severe thunderstorm hits the region. Photo: Kitty Hill

Hailstones litter the Tamworth CBD as a severe thunderstorm hits the region. Photo: Kitty Hill

A maximum wind gust recorded at Tamworth’s automatic weather station at the Tamworth Airport registered at 98km/h.

Pic: Jenna Maughan

Pic: Jenna Maughan

Pic: Vicki A Jerrett

Pic: Vicki A Jerrett

Pic: Debbie Ingram

Pic: Debbie Ingram

Pic: Shannon Kelly

Pic: Shannon Kelly

Small planes parked at Tamworth Airport had their wings twisted by the force of the wind.

At the national equine centre, the wind peeled back the iron roof of the main arena entrance like a tin can. The downpour caused flash-flooding over a number of main roads, including Goonoo Goonoo Rd, Kable Ave and Bridge St.

Firefighters were called to a number of businesses after the weather set off false alarms. 

Pic: Gavin Cloake

Pic: Gavin Cloake

Pic: Karli Koungras

Pic: Karli Koungras

Pic: Analise Blanch

Pic: Analise Blanch

Pic: Katy Caulfield

Pic: Katy Caulfield

Pic: Marion Carless

Pic: Marion Carless

Pic: Tanya Boland

Pic: Tanya Boland

Residents in Mount Falcon Estate first reported the storm just after 3pm, but it appeared that as it moved around its ferocity and the hailstones grew in size. South Tamworth was the hardest hit. 

Resident Beverly Jennings, who lives in Petra Ave, watched the storm roll over and said by the time it arrived at her place – about 3.10pm – the stones were “bigger than golf balls” and had “rough edges”.

Pic: Wendy Wentam

Pic: Wendy Wentam

Pic: Wendy Wentam

Pic: Wendy Wentam

Not only were the hailstones huge, there were reports of a mini-tornado, too.

Heavily pregnant Cathy Miller’s two-storey house in Wilga Place, off Kurrajong St in South Tamworth, was significantly damaged.

Hailstones the size of golf balls punched holes through three windows on the top floor. The accompanying winds blew the guttering off the front of the house and water came pouring into the home. 

Mrs Miller was in one of the bedrooms on the top floor of the home talking to her husband when the storm hit. 

“I watched the storm roll in and the clouds turn from green to black and started to panic a bit,” she said. 

“I honestly thought there’s no way this is going to miss us.”

Fellow Wilga Place resident Geoff Myers had been watching the storm come across and thought it would blow over.

“It didn’t hit the way it normally would,” he said. 

“I thought it would blow over, but it turned full circle and hit our street at a 45-degree angle.”

Mr Myers’ had a large hailstone break one window and the wind rip of some of his guttering.

He said the hailstones were as big as he’d seen in 30 years living in Tamworth.

Other storm-spotters said the stones were anywhere between the size of a five-cent piece and cricket balls, and reported their gardens being stripped by the force of the wind and beaten by the hail.

Road signs were buckled and brick fences were knocked over  in the South Tamworth area.

At The Leader’s office on the corner of Brisbane and Marius streets, the kitchen and a number of offices on the first floor were flooded.

It’s understood parts of Centrepoint Shopping Centre and its underground car park were inundated with water.

Firefighters were brought in to try and push the water out, and customers were evacuated from the complex about 3.30pm. 

Essential Energy confirmed at 4pm more than 3000 houses and businesses were experiencing power outages. 

Staff at their offices in Electra St were being evacuated after damage was reported there. 

An elderly woman living in Wahroongha Dr was terrified after a trampoline was picked up in the wind and thrown onto her roof. 

A tree that blocked Calala Lane about 3.15pm and stopped traffic in both directions was one of a number of trees reported down, while a large tree fell over Arinya St, causing problems for cars and school buses ferrying children home. 

Lightning was reported to have hit a number of light poles in and around the city.

Lines were reported to be down on Somerton Rd, and at the intersection of Roderick and Peel streets.

Emergency crews called to the lines at Roderick St were told to assert extreme caution when they attended, because there was concern the lines were still live when they fell on the ground. 

Traffic lights were out across four intersections on Bridge St for some time; traffic controls were called in.

Although thunderstorms were forecast, a severe warning was not issued until 3.45pm, after the first wave of the storm had hit. 

While the clean-up was under way in parts of Tamworth, residents in Kootingal reported the arrival of hail about 5.40pm.

School children race to beat the storm yesterday in Tamworth. Photo: Kitty Hill

School children race to beat the storm yesterday in Tamworth. Photo: Kitty Hill

Thunderstorms and hail one minute, sunshine and rainbows the next. Photo: Kitty Hill

Thunderstorms and hail one minute, sunshine and rainbows the next. Photo: Kitty Hill