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Storms, wind and hail damages properties and causes widespread blackouts in north Queensland

Wednesday February 21, 2018 - 15:42 EDT
Audience submitted image
Fence palings skewered a Moranbah bathroom during the intense storm. - Audience submitted

Fence posts were sent hurtling through walls as wild storms ripped through Queensland's central highlands, leaving tens of thousands of homes without power.

Storm cells began rolling into Mackay and Proserpine yesterday afternoon, with hail measuring 8 centimetres falling at Clermont, north of Emerald.

Damaging wind gusts of 104 kilometres per hour hit Moranbah, with residents reporting widespread damage to trees, homes, sheds and even swing sets being blown out of backyards.

And more wild weather is tipped for today.

In one property, fence palings were lodged into walls and a bathroom mirror, with Nicholas Martorana sharing pictures of his home.

Moranbah resident Alaina Earle said it was "terrifying".

"It was far worse than Debbie. It was crazy, I was stunned. There were fence panels everywhere, and sheds just blown to pieces," she said.

"There's trees on cars, it's horrible. All schools closed until further notice. The trees are massive and they're just everywhere and shade clothes are everywhere. The pool is a mess, the kindy is a mess."

A local mailman, who only wanted to be known as Dave, said he was shocked.

"I drove into Moranbah and thought wow. There's no roof on the bike shed. There's a few sheets lying around and they would have been like missiles," he said.

Another resident, Noel, said lots of people had been out sightseeing.

"There's a big tree down behind my place, pretty damn big and it's gone. It's snapped right at the base," he said.

Late last night the storm moved north to Townsville, with 92 millimetres of rain recorded at Giru and Toolakea.

Emma Oliveri from Ergon Energy said more than 30,000 properties had been blacked out from Moranbah to Gordonvale, near Cairns, and west to Hughenden.

"It's a big job for our crews to assess the damage first of all and then get out there and repair it and they will do that as quickly and safely as possible," Ms Oliveri said.

"In some cases out west, we've got crews flying the lines this morning, when it's safe to do so, when it's clear, so it will take some time in those cases."

Heavy winds tore off part of the roof from Mt Isa Hospital late yesterday.

Barbara Davis from the North West Hospital and Health Service said debris then damaged another block which houses the emergency department and children's ward.

"It was quite bizarre actually there was this very strange wind and then this whooshing sound and it didn't sound right and then we saw some debris flying around but didn't realise the extent of it until we were able to inspect it," she said.

"We know everyone wants to know when their power will be restored, but unfortunately we can't give an accurate restoration time."

Michael Paech from the Bureau of Meteorology said more storms are forecast to hit northern regions today.

"It was quite a strong cell that did go through the Townsville area overnight," Mr Paech said.

"We are expecting another round of showers and storms through the northern interior and through the Herberton, Lower Burdekin area."


© ABC 2018

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