Severe thunderstorms forecast to hit Queensland, as Bureau of Meteorology takes flak on storm alerts
- Kate McKenna
- The Sunday Mail (Qld)
- November 18, 20129:28PM
THE “very dangerous” thunderstorms forecast have hit Ipswich and Brisbane, with large hailstones falling in Oxley and torrential rain in Brisbane’s CBD.
8.31pm: The Weather Bureau said the storm is in “weakening mode” as it moves through the Sunshine Coast.
The storm cell has hit Caloundra and Maroochydore, dumping about 25mm-30mm of rain in 30 minutes.
But forecaster David Grant said there have been no reports of hail, and winds were losing their power.
“The worst of the storm has passed and it is really in weakening mode now,” Mr Grant said.
“The short, heavy bursts of rainfall might sound like a lot, but it isn’t for Queensland.”
8.28pm: Energex have been able to more than halve the number of homes affected by power outages this evening.
More than 18,000 people were without power at the height of the storm but there are now only 6600 homes affected.
Brisbane suburbs as well as Ipswich and the Sunshine Coast have been the worst affected.
More storms move in over Kings Beach, Caloundra on the night of November 18. PIC: Glenn Barnes
8.05pm: Two cars were stuck in water at Eagle Farm as thunderstorms flooded Brisbane.
The cars were on Theodore Street about 6.50pm when they got stuck.
A good Samaritan called triple 0 and was able to help the occupants out.
Meanwhile, a man hole on Creek Street in Brisbane city came off because of the rain, causing road delays about 6.20pm.
No serious accidents were caused.
Lightning over Brisbane City from Ascot hill late Sunday afternoon. Picture: Marc Robertson
Energex has rushed to a suburban street at Red Hill after a 24-metre tree came crashing down on powerlines.
Residents on Vowles street are already without power and Energex is working to remove the tree.
7.53pm: Energex is slowly restoring power to homes across Brisbane this afternoon.
Around 10,5000 customers are now without power.
At the peak of the storm more than 18,000 customers were living in darkness.
An Energex spokesman said crews were working around the clock to restore power.
“We’re getting reports that there is a lot of vegetation like tree branches that has come down on powerlines,” he said.
He advised people to report any fallen powerlines and to not approach them.
Lightning strikes Brisbane. Picture: Ben Baker
7.48pm: Caloundra is gearing up to be hit by the storm that tore through Brisbane city this evening, pulling down trees and flooding roads.
The severe thunderstorm is expected to hit Caloundra by 8.05pm
7.44pm: Thunderstorms are now expected to ravage Maroochydore and Coolum Beach by 8.35pm. The severe thunderstorms will include damaging winds, heavy rain and large hail.
7.41pm: The worst of the storm has passed through Brisbane with the heavy rainfall and winds now making its way through Moreton and Bribie Islands.
BOM forecaster David Grant said the peak of the activity is now over for the city.
“There’s still potential of a shower… but it really reached its peak in an area between Ipswich and Archerfield this evening,” he said.
Brisbane’s western suburbs have received the worst rainfall, with Toowoong hit with 39mm and Bellbird Park with 36mm.
“Hail was the main thing – in terms of rain fall hasn’t been that much to be honest,” Mr Grant said.
He said reports had come in of hail ranging from golf ball size to cricket balls.
Moreton Island has been hit by winds of 113km/h.
7.30pm: Southeast Queensland is not the only place getting hit by storms, with about 24,000 lightning strikes recorded in wild weekend weather in NSW.
The Bureau of Meteorology said the state’s highest rainfall was recorded at Coffs Harbour, with 160mm in the 24 hours to 9am (AEDT) on Sunday.
Wind gusts of up to 100km/h were also recorded in the state’s north.
The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) was kept busy, with 150 call outs on Saturday and Sunday, most from the northern NSW township of Woodburn
The storm took down this large tree in Langley Avenue, Wilston. Picture: Simone Rosengren
7.22pm: A 112 km/h wind gust was recorded at Cape Moreton.
7.20pm: Translink’s Call Centre has reopened following the earlier evacuation caused by a false fire alarm.
7.15pm: Energex crews are working through the night to restore power to more than 18,000 customers without power. Energex has reported more 25,000 lightning strikes since midday.
7.10pm: AIRPORT activity was suspended due to lightning strikes this afternoon.
Lightning strikes as seen from Woody Point Jetty looking west. Picture: Paul Hruby
A Brisbane Airport spokeswoman said it was around the fifth time that planes were forced to delay their departure.
Movement was suspended for around 45 minutes just after 5.30pm but operations have now resumed.
7pm: BRISBANE residents have stayed safe during the flash flood with ambulance crews on standby in case of an emergency.
A Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman said the wet weather and hail had not caused any significant crashes.
Short delays are on the Gateway Motorway before the Sandgate Road overpass at Deagon after a minor crash.
Another crash on the Western freeway at Indooroopilly has blocked the rightlane after the Kenmore Road overpass.
Short delays are expected.
6.55pm: Firefighters have been called to two homes that caught fire after being hit by lightning tonight.
Crews arrived to a home on Nisbet Street at Westlake to find the fire out on arrival, but firefighters are now trying to control a fire to the roof space of home on Oxford Street at Bulimba.
6.53pm: 8128 homes are now without power in the Moreton Bay region. A total of 18510 Energex customers are now in darkness.
6.43pm: THE TRANSLINK call centre has been evacuated due to the recent storm passing through the city.
The call centre’s fire alarm was tripped by the recent storm, the building currently being evacuated.
Commuters have been told to refer to the website for transport information.
Brisbane light show
Check out the incredible show mother nature put on in Brisbane. Courtesy: DJMSKINART- Brisbane Chemtrails
Energex is reporting 9849 homes without power in the Brisbane region while 134 Ipswich homes are powerless.
232 homes on the Sunshine Coast are currently without power.
6.37pm: THE STORM has blown over Brisbane city leaving a line of devastation in its wake this afternoon.
Brisbane CBD was hit by 16mm in half an hour but it was the Mitchelton and Alderley area that was pummelled by almost 40mm.
The storm is now approaching Sandgate, having already passed the northern suburbs.
Bureau of Meteorology Jonty Hall said the storm has been travelling 30-40km/h and will hold its intensity as it travels to the Sunshine Coast.
DAMAGE DONE: Anne Thomson lost her Kelvin Grove market stall but was still smiling. Picture: Annette Dew
6.27pm: MUSIC lovers have taken cover in Queensland’s University of Technology with the annual Harvest Festival rained out.
At 6pm, severe thunderstorms were detected at Brisbane CBD, Enoggera, Nudgee and Aspley with music lovers forced to leave the Brisbane Botanic gardens venue and public transport experiencing serious delays.
Both Cleveland and the Ipswich/Rosewood lines have major delays while all other lines are experiencing minor delays.
The thunderstorm is now moving northeast with Strathpine, Redcliffe, Rainbow Beach and Wide Bay are expected to be hit by the storm by 6:30 pm while the waters off Bribie Island, Double Is Point, Inskip and Inskip Point will be lashed by the heavy rains by 7pm.
6.15pm: ROADS have been turned into rivers as a large storm cell hits Brisbane city this evening.
The storm has been brewing all day as flash floods lash Brisbane, while warnings have been issued for Maroochydoore, Gympie, Bundaberg, Kingaroyu, Noosa, Hervey Bay, Fraser Island and Hervey Bay waters as the storm continues to move north.
Double Island Point near Rainbow Beach was hit with winds of more than 90km/h and Jandowae and Beerburrum were pelted with more than 4cm hail this afternoon.
Department of Community Safety has warned residents at Strathpine, Redcliffe, Deception Bay waters and Beachmere are in the firing line by 6.35pm.
6.03pm: HAIL as big as 9cms could hit the city as thunder and lightning storms roll towards up from Ipswich.
Jindalee has already been affected by the hail storm, with almost 3000 Energex customers now without power.
Reports of flooding roads have already hit the city, and the Bureau is warning the heavy rain will get worse.
Superstorm hits QUT
The Lego Robotics competition is disrupted as a wild storm hits the Kelvin Grove campus of QUT.
5.59pm: THE “very dangerous” thunderstorms forecast has hit Ipswich and Brisbane’s southern suburbs, with large hailstones falling in Oxley and torrential rain in Brisbane’s CBD.
The Bureau of Meteorology warns that, at 6:00 pm, severe thunderstorms were detected on weather radar near Brisbane CBD, Enoggera, Nudgee and Aspley.
5.49pm: BRISBANE is bracing for the next deluge to hit as the storm cell races towards the city.
The 5.50pm storm expected to hit Ipswich has already passed the southern town and is already up to Oxley.
Queensland Fire and Rescue Services Brisbane duty manager of operations said there were no reports of serious injuries or damage but all crews were on standby.
COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE: Amie Neil’s car is even more compact after the wild storm passed through Spring Hill. Picture: Annette Dew
5.20pm: People in Brisbane and Ipswich, and parts of Logan, Gympie, Ipswich, Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast, Scenic Rim and Somerset areas have been told to brace for damaging wind, heavy rainfall and large hailstones.
The Bureau of Meteorology has warned that “very dangerous” thunderstorms with large hailstones were detected at Bundamba Lagoon, and are tracking north.
The storms are forecast to hit Ipswich, Lake Manchester and Upper Brookfield by 5:50 pm and Strathpine, Lake Samsonvale and Dayboro by 6:20 pm.
Meanwhile, approximately 8,987 homes and businesses are without power on the Sunshine Coast following a smaller storm cell that hit at 4pm.
Energex said it was working to restore power as soon as possible, with a further 281 households without power across Brisbane, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley and Somerset.
3.54pm: The Weather Channel has warned a second band of storms is headed towards Brisbane, as the first cluster of severe storms moves in on the Sunshine Coast.
The Bureau of Meteorology warned at 3.35pm that the thunderstorms had hit near Maroochydore, Caloundra and the NSW border, and are tracking northeast.
They are forecast to hit the area south of Noosa Heads, Kenilworth, Yandina, Coolum Beach and Eumundi by 4:05 pm and Noosa Heads and Pomona by 4:35 pm.
But Richard Whitaker from the Weather Channel warned Brisbane “was not out of the woods just yet”.
“There is another line of severe storms that is developing from Toowoomba and moving southwest into the city,” he said.
He predicted the storms could potentially affect the Brisbane metropolitan area within the next two hours.
12.15pm: A CLUSTER of “very dangerous” storms have hit north of Brisbane with reports of strong gusts and hail pounding the area.
Storms have already dropped 3cm hail at Caboolture at 2.20pm, 4cm hail at Jandowae at 1.50pm and 2cm-3cm at Yamanto at 1.10pm.
The Bureau of Meteorology said that, at 2.20pm, “very dangerous thunderstorms were detected on the weather radar near Beerburrum”.
The Bureau said the storms are forecast to hit the area southeast of Caloundra and northern Bribie Island by 2.50pm.
Other severe thunderstorms were located near Caloundra, the area east of Somerset Dam and the area northeast of Jandowae.
They are forecast to affect Dayboro, Mount Mee, Bauple and the ranges north of Jandowae by 2:50 pm and Caboolture, the area northwest of Kingaroy, Wamuran, Cape Moreton, Toolara and Tin Can Bay by 3.20 pm.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Jonty Hall said of biggest concern, were storms striking near Dayboro and Somerset Dam.
There have also been reports of strong storms east of Ipswich, west of Greenbank, west of Dalby, Biggenden and Gin Gin.
He added severe storms were tracking towards Strathpine and Redcliffe, north of Brisbane, while most of Logan City was under threat.
He said there had been reports of hailstones 2cm to 3cm wide at Yamanto in Ipswich.
Small hailstones hit Caloundra as bucketing rain pelted down about 2.15pm Sunday.
After an earlier sunny break in the weather, thick dark clouds took over the southern end of the Sunshine Coast as a thunderstorm passed quickly over the region.
Heavy rain was experienced but the winds were not damaging.
Energex said there had been reports of 6,300 lightning strikes cloud to ground since 8am.
Approximately 300 households are still without power.
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Earlier, lightning strikes sparked between 10 and 15 grass fires southwest of Brisbane.
A Queensland Fire and Rescue spokeswoman said the fires were burning in several locations including Ravensbourne.
“They are going pretty much everywhere but it doesn’t say how big they are,” the spokeswoman said.
“At the moment it is still unstable, with showers and thunderstorms and a few storms developing now,” he said.
“It’s a lot weaker than yesterday at this stage, but could become quite severe out west from lunchtime.”
He said the area from east of the Darling Downs across to the coast, and as far north as the Fraser Coast, may be hit by damaging winds and heavy rainfall.
Services are returning to normal on the Caboolture line after a power outage between Petrie and Caboolture stations on Sunday morning.
A Translink spokesman said trains had resumed following the outage at 7.30am but commuters should expect residual delays of up to 15 minutes.
Commuters have also been warned to expect some minor delays for buses and trains today “due to debris and flash flooding”.
“We’ve got a blanket alert for all services, and encourage customers to stay safe when boarding and exiting services,” the spokesman said.
Brisbane Airport is also recovering from delays after storm activity halted operations on the tarmac this morning.
“There was earlier a restriction on moving people on the tarmac due to the risk of lightning strikes,” said Leonie Vandeven from Brisbane Airport Corporation.
“It meant the baggage handlers couldn’t unload or load, which can contribute to delays.”
“But (after 10.35am) the warning lights were lifted and they are getting back into operation now.”
Lifeguards have closed Bribie Island’s main beach due to ongoing lightning strikes in the area. Sunshine Coast beaches remain open.
Queenslanders this morning woke up to survey the damage from the two severe storm cells that ripped through the southeast yesterday.
The strongest storm developed in the eastern Darling Downs region, near Pitsworth, where hail of up to 10cm in size pummelled the land.
“Fortunately, though, that stayed mostly rural, and didn’t come into any built-up areas,” Mr Hall said.
“That was the main storm from yesterday. Apart from that, we had some pretty heavy rain fall as the storms merged and pushed eastwards.”
The Lockyer Valley received the highest rainfall with 114mm dumped yesterday.
Meanwhile, in Brisbane, Alderley recorded 90mm, and Toowong had 88mm.
Gusts of up to 90km/h also blew across Moreton Bay – the highest recorded reading yesterday.
Home Roofing Brisbane owner Carl Yaxley said the company had been flooded with 30 to 40 calls from homes and businesses complaining of roof leaks.
“Since about 10am yesterday, we have been getting a lot of calls about roofs that have flooded, and trees going through tiled roofs” he said.
The worst damage he saw was a commercial business in Herston where the gutters were so choked by leaves the water overflowed into the ceiling cavity.
“There was so much water the ceiling actually dropped,” he said.
“This weather has made a mess – and created a lot of work for insurance companies.”
Mr Yaxley said “no one” was prepared for the intensity of the storms when they hit.
“That’s the first thing they said – people were very, very surprised,” he said.
The owner said the roof repair company has rostered six people on call to cope with the extra work.
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“But I don’t think we’ll see the real volume until Monday or Tuesday (when the home owner gets on to the insurance company,” he said.
An Energex spokeswoman said the company had restored power to 6,500 homes and businesses across the southeast since 4.30am on Sunday, with a further 400 still without power.
“These were a combination of restoration from the line to the house, but also some fallen powerlines,” she said.
“But Energex are turning over jobs really quickly and we are looking for restoration around lunchtime,” she said.
She said there had been almost 4,500 ground lightning strikes since 6am.
A Community Safety spokeswoman said emergency services received 173 calls for assistance between 5am Saturday and 5am Sunday.
“These were mostly requests for assistance with leaking roofs, minor flooding and tarping,” she said.
“These requests were mostly isolated yesterday to the Brisbane CBD and inner-Brisbane suburbs.”
Meanwhile, the weather bureau has come under fire for failing to issue a specific warning about yesterday’s freak Brisbane storm until after the damage had been done.
The bureau had warned that storms were likely to hit during the day, and at 8.20am a forecaster told couriermail.com.au they were expecting “the main round of thunderstorms will develop from about the middle part of the day”.
But as the freak storm began to form minutes later, the bureau fell silent.
From 8am, amateur weather watchers were warning on web-based forums about the intense cell systems that were forming at Inglewood and moving towards the coast.
By 10am it was clear to anybody watching the weather radar on the bureau’s own website that a big storm was headed towards the city – and Energex’s lightning tracker recorded more than 1000 strikes during the next 30 minutes.
People started leaving comments on the bureau’s Facebook page to ask for a storm update. But still the bureau remained silent.
The front of the storm smashed into the suburbs about 10.30am, with its massive winds described by those in its path as a freak storm much stronger than the usual summer blows.
Another 2000 lightning strikes later, the bureau issued its first specific warning about the storm.
In a statement, the bureau’s Queensland regional director Rob Webb defended the timing of the warning.
“The short duration – from minutes, and often less than an hour – and very localised nature of thunderstorms makes them difficult to predict in detail with a long lead time,” he said.
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“Early Thursday morning the bureau’s forecasts for southeast Queensland picked up on the underlying meteorological conditions to indicate severe storms could develop over the weekend, and this was reported in regular radio crosses and news bulletins on Friday.
“As the storm approached the Brisbane CBD, it started to show signs of severe storm characteristics and forecasters issued warnings.
“The Bureau of Meteorology doesn’t aim to issue warnings for every thunderstorm, but uses thresholds to ensure there isn’t complacency in the community due to over-warning.”
But the bureau’s Facebook page was inundated through the day with critics.
The bureau was quick to issue frequent severe storm warnings during the afternoon and evening as another round of storms swept across southeast Queensland.
The evening storm left almost 30,000 homes without power as more than 22,000 lightning strikes were recorded.
– additional reporting by Renee Viellaris and Kathleen Donaghey