Dust storms, hail and flash floods batter Australian cities amid raging wildfires
Wind gusts of 66 mph were recorded in Dubbo, Australia, as a dust storm descended over the town Jan. 19. (Photo: Ian Harris, AP)
CANBERRA, Australia – Dust storms, hail and flash floods battered beleaguered Australian cities, extreme weather that diminished the threat from scores of wildfires blazing across the country’s southeast.
A hailstorm in the national capital, Canberra, on Monday damaged public buildings, businesses, homes and cars, cut power to some suburbs, brought down trees, caused flash flooding and injured two people.
To the west, a 186-mile-wide cloud of red dust was carried by wind gusts up to 66 mph and descended on the drought-stricken towns of Dubbo, Broken Hill, Nyngan and Parkes. Much of the dust is topsoil from New South Wales state farms.
“It’s part and parcel of this record drought we’ve got at the moment,” Dubbo Mayor Ben Shields told Nine Network television.
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Hail struck Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, on Sunday and more hailstorms are forecast. The city has been choked by smoke from distant wildfires in Victoria state.
A storm scattered hailstones outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on Jan. 20. (Photo: MICK TSIKAS, EPA-EFE)
Unusually intense storms over the weekend caused flash flooding in the cities of Brisbane and Gold Coast in Queensland state, north of New South Wales, where most of the wildfire destruction occurred.
The fires have claimed at least 28 lives since September, destroyed more than 2,600 homes and razed more than 25.7 million acres. The area burned is larger than the U.S. state of Indiana.
Golfball-size hailstones carpet the lawn and drift against the building of Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, after a storm battered the Australian capital Jan. 20. (Photo: Rod McGuirk, AP)
Widespread rainfall in New South Wales and Victoria have not extinguished major fires in Australia’s two most populous states.
Authorities warned the fire danger will escalate this week in both states amid drier conditions as temperatures rise.
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