QR.bizNewsAustralia’s wild weather: First fires, now baseball-size hail

Australia’s wild weather: First fires, now baseball-size hail

As wildfires continued to burn through parts of eastern Australia, severe storms on Monday brought hail and flooding to major cities in the region.

The bush fires have destroyed more than 2,600 houses since September and 28 people have died - along with hundreds of millions of animals.

"The dust storms affecting central western New South Wales are a direct outcome of two years of drought and greatly diminished vegetative cover on the soil surface", said Stephen Cattle, a soil scientist at the University of Sydney.

A powerful hail storm rained down on the Australian capital, Canberra.

Forecaster Abrar Shabren told ABC News wind gusts in Dubbo reached up to about 66 miles per hour.

Severe thunderstorms hit Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong on Monday. Huge dust storms engulfed the country's southeast over the weekend, looking like something out of a Hollywood disaster movie. Another image showed extensive damage to a auto windscreen, alongside the caption: "49 degree heat?"

"Ultimately, we need to remain vigilant", Andrews said, adding the fire season, "is far from over".

It will now give organisers of the Australian Open tennis another problem to deal with, after the tournament preparations were marred by the thick smoke from the fires, causing one player to collapse on court .

It's far too early to speculate over the impacts of these severe weather outbreaks, but on top of the fires they will further pressure insurers and perhaps lead to more claims leaking into the reinsurance market.

Farmers have already been battered by a prolonged drought, which is also pushing the unique platypus population towards becoming extinct, according to another study published on Monday.

However, the National Archives of Australia was closed due to damage. "We're just trying to get over what we've experienced on New Year's Eve and the weeks before and after", said Guy Chapman, general manager of Club Catalina, a golf club at Batemans Bay, 280 kms to Sydney's south. If projections about the accelerating rate of climate change are taken into account, this could rise to 73 percent.

As Australia takes stock of what it lost in the epic fires, some forests and other important habitats might not be able to recover fully, particularly if more droughts and fires return, as the Associated Press reports.

Some of the trees were charred, but the unique grove survived.

'Run-off from rainfall in fire-affected areas may behave differently and be more rapid resulting in flash flooding which may also contain debris such as ash, soil, trees and rocks, ' Mr Elliott said in a statement.

Australia's wild weather first fires now hail the size of a baseball

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