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Hailstorm turns main street into makeshift ski run, after mini tornadoes hit parts of Adelaide

By Daniel Keane and Charlotte Batty, Sunday July 25, 2021 - 13:59 EST

As parts of the Adelaide Hills were turned into icy thoroughfares by hailstorms on Saturday night, one resident made the most of the opportunity ? by skiing down the main street of his hometown.

The unusual sight came amid a blast of wintry weather, which is also suspected of causing mini tornadoes earlier in the day. 

The State Emergency Service (SES) responded to almost 500 call-outs on Saturday, with power cut to thousands of homes and businesses across SA.

But it was the hail that fell that provided the impromptu ski run for Hahndorf resident Josh Hannam.

He said he was at home with family when the storm passed overhead, and, when he saw the thick covering of hail, he sensed an unlikely opportunity "to get the skis out".

"We went out to have a bit of a look at what damage had been done and what was lying around," he said.

"Before we knew it, we just kept finding better coverage on our street. We found ourselves driving around Hahndorf just looking for the best places to ski."

The hail fell amid South Australia's current COVID-prompted lockdown, and Mr Hannam said that, when authorities this week limited outdoor exercise to 90 minutes a day, he had little inkling that he would be partaking in winter sport.

He said amused onlookers were surprised to see the sight of a solitary skier in the mostly deserted street.

"I'd like to think that no-one's skied down the main street of Hahndorf before, I'd be disappointed if I found out I wasn't the first," he said.

"We've done the United States, New Zealand, Japan, and Australia's ski fields, so ticked off a few good ones. Now we've done Hahndorf."

Photos of the German-themed town show a scene resembling a European alpine village ? but the Bureau of Meteorology said the icy layer was definitely hail, not snow.

"I can definitely understand that people could have assumed it was snow, especially if you weren't out in it when it was falling," meteorologist Hilary Wilson said.

"Based on looking at some of our observations, it was most likely hail that fell up that way last night, but because it was quite cold and there was a lot of hail occurring in a short space of time, that allowed it to settle on the ground.

"It wouldn't have been quite cold enough in the lower levels of the atmosphere for snow to occur."

Some residents used their 90 minutes of exercise to make miniature "snowmen" out of hail.

But Mr Hannam said he didn't think Hahndorf would be opening a ski resort any time soon.

"You'd probably need a car as your chairlift," he said.

Adelaide's south hit by mini tornadoes

Earlier in the day, SES volunteers worked to repair damaged power lines and remove fallen trees from roads.

"We did see some significant tree and property damage over the Adelaide area yesterday," Ms Wilson said.

"A deep low-pressure system in the Southern Ocean produced a strong cold front which crossed the Adelaide area around midday yesterday, so that's what's brought all this rainfall."

Mount Lofty had a top of just 6.4 degrees Celsius, with wind gusts in excess of 100 kilometres per hour recorded in parts of the state, and a gust of 95kph at Adelaide Airport.

Meteorologist Jon Fischer said some areas, especially in Adelaide's south, likely experienced small tornadoes.

"Looking at the damage reports, it's consistent with the type of damage we see when we do see tornadoes move through," he said.

"We saw plenty of damage looking at the reports on the SES incident map that we've got there, particularly up around Flagstaff Hill we saw some damage."


© ABC 2021

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