Thunderstorms batter Australia’s east, heatwave grips north

Thunderstorms batter Australia’s east, heatwave grips north
Thunderstorms batter Australia’s east, heatwave grips north

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Australia’s December-February summer is under the influence of the El Nino phenomenon, which can cause weather extremes ranging from wildfires to cyclones and prolonged droughts.— AFP pic

SYDNEY, Dec 30 — Severe thunderstorms battered parts of eastern Australia today, bringing heavy rain, giant hail and strong winds, days after another storm hit the region over the Christmas holidays.

A wild weather system is forecast to stretch more than 1,000 kms (620 miles) from Port Macquarie in the state of New South Wales to Rockhampton in Queensland, with southeastern Queensland expected to bear the brunt of the storm.

“We’re now entering another active period of thunderstorms,” David Grant, forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, said during a press briefing. “There is potential for further isolated, very dangerous thunderstorms.”

Some regions picked up about 110mm (4.3 inches) of rain, roughly a month’s total, in two hours this morning, while hailstones as big as 6 cm (2.4 inches) were also spotted. The bad weather is expected to continue into the new year.

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Two people were taken to hospital after lightning strikes, one while inside a car and the other on an excavator.

The storms follow severe weather on December 25 and 26 that killed 10 people and knocked out power for tens of thousands of properties across the east, and after Cyclone Jasper earlier this month caused widespread flooding and damage.

Australia’s December-February summer is under the influence of the El Nino phenomenon, which can cause weather extremes ranging from wildfires to cyclones and prolonged droughts.

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About 28,000 properties are still without power and the latest storms will hamper reconnection efforts, Queensland state Premier Steven Miles told reporters.

As Queensland endures its second major storm in a week, an intense heatwave was sweeping across Australia’s north and west. Temperatures in Marble Bar, a remote old mining town in the northwest of the state of Western Australia, are expected to touch 49°C (120°F) on Saturday.

But mild weather is forecast for the southeast, including Sydney, on Sunday as Australia’s biggest city gears up for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to prime harbourside spots to watch the famous fireworks that ring in the new year. — Reuters

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