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Severe NSW weather blows roofs from buildings, brings unseasonal snow and 'giant hail'

Tuesday November 7, 2017 - 00:22 EDT
ABC licensed image
The storm front brought unseasonal snow to the Perisher ski resort in the Snowy Mountains. - ABC licensed

A roof collapse has sent two people to hospital as rain and hail caused widespread damage across NSW, with the bureau predicting more "giant hail" and destructive winds into the evening.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) warned "giant hail and destructive winds" were possible with thunderstorms on Monday over the North West Slopes and Plains, parts of the Upper Hunter and inland parts of the Mid-North Coast.

Areas the BOM warned could be affected on Monday night were Port Macquarie, Taree, Armidale, Tamworth, Gunnedah, Moree, Narrabri, Walgett and Lightning Ridge.

The dangerous weather caused the roof of a community centre to collapse in the Hunter Valley town of Kurri Kurri, near Cessnock, just after 2:00pm on Monday.

Two people were taken to Maitland Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries while everyone else inside the centre was accounted for.

The storm also produced has a massive hailstorm which hit suburbs north of Wollongong.

The weather bureau said golf-ball-sized hail fell at Narrabri about 3:20pm.

Across the state, the BOM has issued severe thunderstorm warnings, a marine wind warning and hazardous surf warning, with the greatest impact likely to be on the South Coast and Illawarra.

The State Emergency Service responded to more than 400 calls for assistance by Monday afternoon across the state as trees fell, cars were damaged and powerlines went down.

In the Central Coast suburb of Toukley, strong winds and heavy rain damaged buildings and uprooted trees and homes, and businesses in the area lost power.

'Massive' damage reported in some parts of northern NSW

Stephen Butcher, from Tregeagle, near Lismore, said the damage from Sunday night's storm was "massive".

"I fear for some of my stock, I have thousands of dollars worth of yearlings, two-year-old thoroughbreds in the paddocks," he said.

"I'm hoping they stood up. I saw some of them venturing out when the ferocity of the storms hit.

"I've got massive fig trees that are just shredded.

"I could hear the roof tiles breaking with the force of the wind and the size of the hail. I've never seen anything like it."

Otto Saeck is the owner of Blueberry Fields at Brooklet near Byron Bay and said it was the most severe hailstorm he had seen in 30 years of growing berries in the area.

"It was very very scary. We were sitting in the middle of the house hoping the windows wouldn't break," he said.

"The purpose-built hail nets, we spent over three quarters of a million dollars on them upgrading them three years ago, hasn't stood up to the load and the winds.

"It was like a tornado. We've lost most of the summer crop. We've got to spend hundreds of thousands in repair work.

"We'll prune these hard, that have been damaged, hopefully they'll come back, but if not we'll have to pull them out and start again. It's pretty expensive."


© ABC 2017

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